As a pet owner, we are charged with being the caregiver to a living animal. Like all good relationships, it's a two-way street. Here are a few ways your pets are helping you lead a healthier, more fulfilling life.
Lower Stress, Lower Blood Pressure.
Scientists studied the effects of companion pet ownership when used in conjunction with pharmaceutical treatment. Basically, there are two factors when controlling hypertension. Drugs helped lower the first factor, resting blood pressure, but did nothing to reduce high blood pressure caused by stress. "We conclude that ACE inhibitor therapy alone lowers resting blood pressure, whereas increased social support through pet ownership lowers blood pressure response to mental stress."
Almost everyone has some sort of anxiety under pressure. One study looked at a group of pet owners and non-pet owners and studied their ability to perform arithmetic. The study concluded that "people perceive pets as important, supportive parts of their lives, and significant cardiovascular and behavioral benefits are associated with those perceptions." One of those benefits, performing better on math tests!
Fewer Doctor Visits
Do you hate going to the doctor as much as I do? Well, there's some good news for pet owners. A German study completed in 2007showed that pet owners visited the doctor 15% less each year than non-dog owners. This can also lead to big savings when you factor in the high cost of seeing a doctor.
The memories of my family pets growing up are some of my best. To this day I'll never forget Veronica and Joey. A recent study found that "children with pets demonstrate enhanced empathy, self-esteem, cognitive development, and greater participation in social and athletic activities. They exhibit increased trust, community feeling, sense of safety, and self-confidence." These effects are especially true in one child households.
Allen K, Shykoff BE, Izzo JL Jr. (2001). Pet ownership, but not ace inhibitor therapy, blunts home blood pressure responses to mental stress. Hypertension.
Allen K, Blascovich J, Mendes WB (2002). Cardiovascular reactivity and the presence of pets, friends, and spouses: the truth about cats and dogs. Psychosom Med. Sep-Oct;64(5):727-39.Headey B & Grabka MM (2007). Pets and human health in Germany and Australia: National longitudinal results. Social Indicators Research
Hodgson, K., Barton, L., Darling, M., Antao, V., Kim, F. A., & Monavvari, A. (2015). Pets’ Impact on Your Patients’ Health: Leveraging Benefits and Mitigating Risk. The Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine