Pets for Your Good Health
If you have ever had a dog, a cat or any un-caged pet, then you already know what I am talking about. Regardless of what time or shape you get home in, that pet is likely to make you feel that you are indeed the answer to its fervent prayers!! Is there anyone you know, that will greet you that way day in, day out?
We know that one’s emotional health is important to the total of the well-being of that person. But now we are also able to show that having a pet to love and care for, adds to your physical health which, is the recipe for a longer, healthier life.
Loving a pet is in itself therapeutic. It has been demonstrated that pets improve our health in ways like immunity, heart, fitness, allergies, stress reduction, and the health benefits of joy and playfulness. Pets, in general, reduce stress, are conducive to social interaction, and provide unconditional love and affection. Dr Edward Creagan MD, of Mayo Clinic has literally prescribed pets for a third of his cancer patients
Taking good care of a pet and observing their ways is useful in teaching children social skills, and how to be more empathetic according to a Croatian study. Girls tend to develop nurturing skills while playing house, explains author and sociologist Clinton R Sanders PhD. Walking, grooming, feeding and in general taking responsibility for that dog does the same for boys. And it is manifestly evident that children revel in having a pet, especially if it is one they can hold, or play with, such as dogs and cats.
All this is in addition to the specially trained dogs like guide dogs for the blind and more in that genre. For example . . . . . .
- Assistance animal
- Autism service dog
- Dogs for the Disabled
- Guide dog
- Hearing dog
- Medical response dog
- Mobility assistance dog
- Psychiatric service dog
- Seizure dog
The kind of unconditional love that a pet gives back for his keep is absolute magic!
Let us now look at specific ways that keeping a pet can make us happier and healthier.
1 A Boost to Your Immunity.
A good, robust immune system is what keeps us healthy. When your body has to handle stress, often creates harmful chemicals like cortisol and norepinephrine. These are not good for the immune system, says Blair Justice, PhD, a psychology professor at the University of Texas School of Public Health.
A study at Wilkes University, says that just petting or playing with a dog can increase your levels of immunoglobulin A. This is what helps your body fight the common cold, and unlike tablets, it has no serious side effects so long as you remember to wash your hands afterwards! James A.Serpell PhD, director of the Center for the Interaction of Animals and Society at the University of Pennsylvania says that pets give us oodles of social support and that directly affects the body's immune system. It shores up our resistance to infections and diseases.
2 Pets will help you attain a Healthy Heart.
There is plenty of evidence of the benefits to the heart when one has a pet to love. Several authorities involved in serious research have come up with clear results that show that pets of whatever kind help to keep our hearts healthy and strong.
Alan Beck, ScD, director of the Center for the Human-Animal Bond, at Purdue University tell us that even gazing at your pet goldfish staring back at you can lower your blood pressure. Personally, I would prefer to have a cat or a dog, or both, and I know it makes me feel so much better when I am petting them, or brushing them while I tell them about my hard day at work!! He states that frolicking with your favorite pooch or brushing your feline baby help you to let go of your worries for the future, anger about the past, and simply stay with the present. It can give you a chemical boost as it releases the feel-good brain chemicals serotonin and dopamine.
Researchers have told us that having pets can have a longer-term impact on the cardiovascular system. They tracked a group of 24 hypertensive stockbrokers who had adopted a pet. Pet ownership mitigated the blood pressure response to mental stress that the traditionally prescribed hypertension drug had not.
The Research from the landmark Cardiac Arrhythmia Suppression Trial involved 369 people who had survived a heart attack. It found that-
- Dog owners had a 1% chance of dying within the year, whilst non pet-owners had a 7% chance of doing so.
A study from 2009 found that-
- Those who owned a cat were 37% less likely to die of a heart attack than those who did not.
A study published in the Medical Journal of Australia states that-
- Pet owners also tend to have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels
Do we need any more good reasons to add a pet to our family? In case you do, here are some more.
3 An antidote to Loneliness
Loneliness kills. Interaction with others keeps us balanced.
Having a pet very often fills in a void of someone [with a heartbeat] to talk to. Even if we do not live alone, sometimes we may not feel comfortable ‘spilling the beans’ with another human for various reasons; maybe we are not ready to be so open about our inner conflicts, or maybe the other person does not have the time or the inclination to listen to yet another story bout the new Supervisor who is making your life a misery! Guess what? You are in good company. Around 70% of Adults talk to their pet too.
There are times when children need someone to talk to as well. Surprised? When children go through a crisis in the family . . . . . Say they lose a parent, a pet is often what one might call "non-human social support providers" to those children. It is so much easier to snuggle to a pet, and let the pain come out, then having to explain to another human being. A study from Memorial Sloane Kettering Cancer Center concluded that humans and pets tend to develop a sense of companionship, whether that pet is a dog, a cat, a rabbit or even a fish, and that can make you feel that you are not alone with your worry or your pain.
4 People with Pets are more likely to keep fit.
Whether you take your pet for a romp on the beach, or a walk to the park, or even if you just chase it around the house, you are far more likely to keep fit, and that is without adding the benefits of the feel-good chemical boost to your brain that happen when you get a shot of fun, joy, laughter that pets often elicit. I know that my dog makes me laugh more than when I watch a comedian on stage.
The feel-good feelings motivate us to repeat the action and that makes the exercise we get painless and attractive.
The Journal of Physical Activity and Health found that dog owners were 34% more likely to exercise the stipulated time as advised and that even adolescents tended to increase physical activity when they have a family dog.
5 Pets are good for Friendships
Most of us love to talk about our pet; whether we are explaining about the axolotl - Mexican walking fish- or whether we are proud that the new pet is doing so well in puppy school, it is sure to start up the conversation. Sometimes that conversation leads a happy friendship with other pet-owners, and could lead to a walking companion. At times it leads to much more and it is not uncommon to hear that a happy couple got together because of their pets.
6 Breathe Easier
Before we go much further I have a real doozy to share with you here. It used to be said that if your family had a pet, the children were more likely to develop allergic reactions. They said that some families are simply allergy-prone, and it would be foolish to have a pet in the family.
A pediatrician at the University of Wisconsin-Madison writes in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology that some studies had suggested that children growing up in a home with fur-covered animals are less likely to suffer from allergies and asthma, Gern added that if a dog lived in that home, infants were less likely to show signs of pet allergies – 19 as against 33. They seemed to be also free of eczema, that causes red itchy patches. They showed signs of stronger immune system activation
There is strong empirical evidence that early exposure to allergens – dirt, pollen, and pet dander – can assist in developing a strong immune system.
7 Keep the Aged Safe and Calm.
Some dogs, especially the medium and larger dogs can be of help to their owners if these –the latter- are not too steady on their feet. When seniors are still reasonably active, a gentle walk with the dog can keep the person reasonably fit and healthy. The Midland Life Insurance Company of Columbus, Ohio does medical screening for those 75 or over. One of the questions is whether they have a pet, and if they do, the Insurance company counts that in their favor.
Then there are those who suffer from some form of dementia [e.g., Alzheimer’s] and a dog that is close to that aged person, or a cat to pet, can make a big difference in the life of the Senior person. Dementia is a cruel disease for the person afflicted and for the caregivers.
Alzheimer patients have fewer anxious outbursts and caregivers can feel less burdened when there is a loved pet in the home. The Western Journal of Nursing Research found that having an aquarium with fish for the patients can moderate behavior in many patients, so that they stop fidgeting, yet are not lethargic. It also regulates their appetite better and avoids the lack of nutrition, so often associated with these patients.
A dog, or a cat, has super-sensitive sense of sound and smell, and a cat or [even a small] dog can tell you when something is not as it should be. This gives confidence to Seniors, particularly those living alone. They feel safer and they usually are.
Dr. Edward Creagan, M.D., recipient of the Distinguished Mayo Clinician Award and Mayo Clinic staff member for more than thirty years, is a cancer specialist
Best Advice from Expert Doctor
© 2014 MarieLB