According to the APPA National Pet Owners Survey, a 65 percent of American households have opened their homes and hearts to pets, with dog ownership swelling to 79.7 million households and cat ownership growing to 42.9 million.
When it comes to pet ownership, besides simple companionship, there are a number of proven physical, mental and emotional health benefits pet ownership can provide. Here are five of the top benefits of pets:
Lower Risk of Allergies and Asthma
University of Wisconsin-Madison pediatrician James E. Gern has conducted a number of studies that indicate having a pet can lower a childâ€™s likelihood of developing related allergies by as much as 33 percent. In fact, his research shows that children exposed early on to animals tend to develop stronger immune systems overall.
Reduced Anxiety, Stress and Blood Pressure
Interacting with a pet increases serotonin and dopamine, which produce feelings of contentment and relaxation. One study has shown that people conducting stressful tasks experience less stress when their pet was with them than when their friends or spouse was present.
Decreased Cardiovascular Risk
Research also shows that pet owners have fewer signs of heart disease â€“ due to lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels â€“ than non-pet owners. Also, several additional studies have shown that heart attack patients who have pets survive longer than those without. A National Institutes of Health study of 421 adults found that dog owners have a better one-year survival after a heart attack, compared to those who did not own dogs. And research from the University of Minnesota found cat ownership is related to a 40% lower risk of suffering a fatal heart attack.
Pets can be the truest companion. Not only do animals provide a sense of comfort and trust, they offer unconditional love and can provide owners a sense of purpose as well. They also encourage socialization and proactive communication with others. Walking the dog can be a more effective means of spending quality time with family and friends, and pets always make for great conversation starters.
Increased Exercise Opportunities
Pets are motivating and can provide you a routine that gets you out of the house and on the move. Research conducted by the National Institute of Health found that dog owners responsible for walking their pups are less likely to be obese than dog owners who pass the duty off to someone else or those who donâ€™t own dogs at all.
So have fun with your pooch or lizard or feline friend, because it turns out that all pets, not just therapy pets, are good for your mind, body, and spirit.
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