Health benefits of owning a pet
Research shows that pet owners are healthier and happier. Read on to find out how your four-legged friend could be your best medicine.
- In a 20-year study American study of almost 4500 people, those who had never owned a pet cat were found to be 40 per cent more likely to die of a heart attack than those who owned a cat. They were also 30 per cent more likely to die of other cardiovascular diseases, including stroke, heart failure and chronic heart disease.
- If you do have a heart attack, owning a pet adds an extra 4 per cent to your chances of surviving it.
- Dog cuddles lower your blood pressure. The boffins have discovered that people have lower blood pressure when talking to and petting a dog than when they interact with another person. Dogs have been used in hospitals and care facilities for this very purpose.
- Studies from Australia, Germany and China have revealed that pet owners make fewer visits to the doctor each year than non-owners.
- Pet owners get out and about more, says Australian researcher Dr Hayley Christian from The University of Western Australia. Her research found that people who got a dog increased their recreational walking by 48 minutes per week, compared with an increase of only 12 minutes per week for people who did not acquire a dog during the period of the study. She also found that dog owners are more likely to meet the recommended levels of exercise than non-owners.
- According to another American study, pet owners have greater self-esteem and cope better with social rejection than non-owners.
- Pets help to alleviate grief and stress. An American study of elderly people who had recently lost a spouse showed that pet ownership and strong attachment to pets were associated with significantly less depression.
- Kids who grow up with pets, especially dogs, have a lower incidence of allergies than children who don’t have a four-legged friend.