Photo: WoofBC (Flickr)
An apple a day might keep the doctor away, but a pet is much more fun. And research is mounting in support of the idea that pets are good for your health.
Owning A Pet Has Health Benefits
Over sixty percent of U.S. households have a pet. That includes over seventy-seven million dogs and nearly ninety-four million cats.
Many pet owners extol the health benefits of having companion animals, but it wasn’t until recently that scientists began to put the idea through rigorous testing.
Woof, Own A Dog!
Dog ownership can increase general well-being for the simple reason that dogs need to be walked, and walking improves physical condition.
But scientists have found that owning a dog also increases the odds of survival after a heart attack. In one study, the percent of people who survived at least one year after hospitalization was six percent for non pet owners versus twenty-eight percent for pet owners.
Lowering Cholesterol, Triglycerides, And Stress
People with pets have been found to have lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels than people with no pets, even when matched for weight, diets, and smoking habits.
Just the presence of a dog during a medical testing situation, like a physical exam or heart stress test, resulted in lower blood pressure and heart rates in both adults and children.
Pets And The Elderly
Companion animals have also been beneficial in nursing homes.
In facilities where animals became part of the therapy, the use of prescription drugs and care costs dropped. Even for elderly persons living at home, those with pets had fewer health problems and medical appointments.
Loving Companions For A Healthy Heart
Most people do not invite pets into their home for the health benefits, but it may not be long before doctors start saying: adopt two dogs and call me in the morning.