Change Your Choices

Change Your Life…Tips for a healthier you

Health Benefits of Pets

on January 31, 2012

This is the man who wasn't sure about having a house pet with our rescue cat, Luis.

I will admit to being a cat lady.  Yes, we currently have 3 cats living in our house, I would have more but that might be considered crazy!  I was raised in a house where rescue cats were in an out as well as our own  cats plus our rescued chihuahua that we had for 13 years.  My husband was not raised with pets in the house but our daughters and I convinced him that a cat would be good to have.  Hahaha….he now begrudgingly admits that having pets around is quite entertaining.  Having a pet can also help you live a long and healthy life- here’s how:

  • Pets alleviate loneliness. Loneliness is one of the biggest obstacles to  recovery from illnesses such as heart disease. Patients who suffer heart attacks  but own pets are likely to have five times the survival rate of patients who are  not pet owners.
  • Petting an animal induces relaxation. The act of petting an animal lowers a  person’s blood pressure. Studies have shown that owning a pet has long-term  positive effects on blood pressure.
  • Pets help people adapt, adjust and deal with many changes and losses in  life. Pet owners can benefit emotionally from the human-animal relationship.
  • Dog owners get more exercise. Walking is excellent exercise for people and  dogs. Many people who do not enjoy exercise are happy to walk their dog.
  • Dog walkers also get more social interaction, because people are more likely  to talk to a walker with a dog as opposed to a lone walker.
  • Caring for any pet requires a certain amount of physical activity.
  • In studies, people with pets have been found to have lower cholesterol and  triglyceride levels when compared with people who did not have pets.
  • Dogs can be trained to predict the onset of a seizure in their human friend  and forewarn him.
  • Children who live with a cat or dog in their first years of life have a  lower incidence of hay fever and asthma and are less likely to develop  animal-related allergies. They also have a more stable immune system and can  fight off disease more effectively.
  • Dogs provide physical assistance for the disabled as well as encouraging  social interaction.
  • The benefits of Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT)for humans with mental  disorders have been well-documented.
  • A Canadian study of nearly 1,000 adults age 65 and over found that pet  owners were more physically fit and less likely to suffer a decline in health in  the course of a year.

If you don’t have a pet, think about your lifestyle and consider what type of animal would be best for you.  Visit a local shelter to see if you connect with one of the many dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, etc. who would love to help you on your quest for not only physical but good mental health as well.

Has your pet improved your life?  Please share your story.

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