There is much evidence to suggest that pets are more than just a non-human being with which we chose to share our lives. Animal companionship is linked to a myriad of health benefits.
First and foremost is the mental health benefits associated with pet ownership. For many people who may not have strong human relationships in their lives, animals provide loyal companionships that helps to alleviate loneliness. In addition, many pets bring to light opportunities for socialisation with other humans.
Dog walking is a prime example, as many people who are walking their animals converse with those engaged in a similar activity. Pet ownership also enables many people to join various clubs and societies that open the door to many social events. Dog clubs and horse riding clubs are a just two examples of organisations brought about by pet ownership.
Not surprisingly, pets have also been found to reduce stress levels. This reduction in stress consequently leads to a reduced risk of heart attack. It has also been found that pets are a great help when it comes to treating anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses.
In terms of the very ill, animals have also been found to have a positive impact. Their ability to reduce stress is perhaps one of the main reasons, as is the companionship they offer. The benefits of animals in terms of sick people is so well documented that many hospitals and nursing homes organise visiting animals with much success.
For patients suffering pain, animals can also provide a welcome reprieve. By reducing anxiety, pain is also reduced. Studies have found that people who used pet therapy in conjunction with regular surgery recovery methods generally require less pain medication than those who do not undergo pet therapy.
Amazingly, it has also been found that some pets possess the ability to notice when a diabetic owner’s blood sugar level has dropped. A study found that on third of pets change their behaviour when this happens, perhaps as a reaction to chemical changes in the body. This can of course be very helpful – and even lifesaving in some cases.
Owning a pet also leads to more exercise in many cases. If you have a dog, you walk it and play with it. If you own a horse you spend much time caring for it and riding it. The physical activity associated with animal ownership is very beneficial to the physical health of a human. It has also been found that pets can decrease your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, due to the exercise they inspire.
Recent research has also touched on the value of children growing up with pets. Aside from teaching children empathy, responsibility and compassion, growing up alongside pets can actually reduce the likelihood of children developing allergies and asthma.
This doesn’t just include animal-related allergies – it is thought that it can reduce the acquisition or severity of allergies in general. Greater benefits have been recorded in households where animals sleep indoors, perhaps due to increased exposure.
So if you want to improve the health of you and your family, consider inviting an animal into your home today!