Dr. Jennifer McCartney wrote, today, about pet ownership and the benefits that it can bring to the owners of animals. This includes added health benefits as well as social and psychological ones as well.
Something that I found to be a particularly interesting piece of the article is that, when it comes to cats, they’re mentioned only one time, and that time is only fleeting, as if an after-thought. Personally I’m allergic to cats, and therefore have no love for them.
I thought the article was pretty intriguing though it does not give a lot of information for further research. It has a lot of great information, though.
Pets have been shown to boost immunity and decrease the risk of allergies or asthma. Several studies have shown that children who grow up with animals either in the home or exposed to them on a farm are less likely to develop allergies or asthma. These children are also shown to have overall stronger immunity as compared to children who are not exposed to pets.
Other studies have shown that animal owners who have stressful jobs (example: stockbrokers) have lower blood pressure in stressful situations than coworkers that do not own animals. High levels of stress lead to increased levels of cortisol and norepinephrine that can alter a person’s immune system and predispose them to heart disease. But animal owners tend to have higher levels of the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine that have a pleasurable, calming or relaxing effect and lead to decreased blood pressures and heart rates.
Dogs also encourage exercise; dog owners reportedly walk more often and longer than people of similar age than do non-dog owners. It is also reported that heart attack patients have better recovery rates if they own a dog or cat.
Pets also help in the social arena. Pets are good communication starters and ice breakers. Dogs can help on the dating scene to ease someone out of shyness and open communication barriers. They are natural conversation pieces because people are interested in the breed, any tricks, special talents, etc.
Animals are being used more and more in therapeutic settings to decrease stress, boost self-esteem and aid handicapped individuals. Dentist offices and doctors’ offices have been placing fish tanks in waiting rooms to help ease patient anxiety. Horses are often used in therapy settings for children with disabilities to boost self confidence and encourage therapy. Many nursing homes allow animal visitation and find improved interaction between residents and staff members. They also find that animal presence gets residents involved and help them to relate about their own experiences with animals. Dogs can be trained to aid people with hearing deficits or alert elderly to phone calls, door bells, or fire alarms and to assist individuals in wheel chairs.
A pet can also help teach children responsibility, compassion and empathy. Nurturing behaviors can also be fostered by caring for pets. Many children confide in their pets and consider them a trusted friend.
Pets encourage laughter, provide a focus of attention and constant source of affection. They can alleviate depression, booster immune function, decrease risk of allergies, asthma, heart attacks and can teach us many things.
-via York News-Times