We all know the old saying, ” Dog is man’s best friend.” But what I bet you don’t realize, or even think about, is how true that statement really is! And not only dogs either, but cats, birds, fish, also having farm animals are all beneficial in so many ways to overall human health as well as the human spirit.

There is nothing better than walking through your front door and being greeted by your loyal and happy household pet who is always so glad to see you. The unconditional love of a pet can do more than keep you company. Pets can also decrease stress, improve heart health, and even help small children with their emotional and social skills.(1) Cuddling your pet, namely a cat or a dog, helps release the “happy” chemical, also known as Oxytocin in both you and your pet.(2) By doing this, you not only de-stress yourself, but you also are de-stressing your pet.
There are so many different ways that a pet can benefit your physical health. These range from improved​ ​cardiovascular health​ ​to a reduced risk of asthma and allergic rhinitis in children exposed to pet allergens.(2) One way that your heart health is affected positively is with increased activity, namely for dog owners with daily walks and actively playing with your favorite pooch.

This not only affects you physically, but it also affects your mental health and your mood. Also, if you happen to live alone, your pet can help keep loneliness and depression at bay. Having and caring for a pet has also been found to lower the levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which in turn leads to a calmer approach to life and thus positively impacts our blood pressure.(2)

Pet’s affecting overall health and human behavior is not a new notion. As early as the 18th century William Tuke, a Quaker philanthropist who ran an asylum for people with severe mental disorders, indicated that his patients gained health benefits from being around animals.(3) Newer studies like this are still going on today around the world. The NIH/Mars Partnership is funding a range of studies focused on the relationships we have with animals. (1) An example of just one of these studies is one in which the researchers are looking into how household pets can affect how children develop, and also how animals affect certain children with ADHD as well as autism.

Not only do animals help people who aren’t ill stay healthy, but they also have a positive effect on people who are sick or who are trying to heal. Therapy dogs are taught and used around the globe to help people with a range of disorders. They are also sometimes brought into hospitals as well as nursing homes as a source of comfort to the patients and residents.(1) Therapy dogs can also be used to help control their owners’ stress and anxiety. Therapy animals may not only be able to facilitate certain aspects of physical health in humans, but they may also contribute towards the long-term psychological well-being of all people who own or are around therapy animals.(3)

It is truly amazing what animals can do for us as humans. It was recently discovered that children who had fish as pets, who also suffered from childhood diabetes, were better able to manage their disease because they were taking care of a fish, which in turn helped them better monitor their sugar levels.(1) When you understand how to care for and feed another living creature, it brings about a new level of maturity and responsibly as well.

Pets can likewise educate those with learning challenges or chemical imbalances to connect with the outside world around them. There are various contextual analyses of kids who, before getting a pet, had been stuck inside their own little world, uncommunicative and cut off from those around them. After shaping a bond with their pet, which is generally a dog or a cat, parents and family members have found that miraculously their child essentially “wakes up” and wants to experience the outside world.(3)

They show levels of emotions that they have never experienced before. That is one of the true marvels of owning a pet. That being said, there is one inescapable drawback to pet possession. The demise or loss of a pet can, in fact, prompt the equivalent or very similar feelings that are experienced when we lose a human individual from our family.(2) That is the negative side of pet ownership. The more we bring our pets into our lives and let them assist us with recouping from disease, fight off nervousness or gloom, and become our absolute best four-legged companions, the more intensely their unavoidable misfortune will be felt. While they are with us for their unfortunately too short lives, they can be massively helpful in the time that they are with us.

While the proof for a direct causal relationship among creatures and human well-being is as yet, not totally definitive, the research is, to a great extent, reliable, and it’s long been believed that ‘pets are beneficial for us,’ adding to both our physical and mental prosperity.(3)

References:

  1. https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2018/02/power-pets
  2. https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/features/how-having-a-pet-can-mak e-us-healthier-a6792126.html
  3. https://thepsychologist.bps.org.uk/volume-24/edition-3/value-pets-human-health

Author

  • Mary is a freelance writer and frequent contributor to Creature Companions where she writes about brachycephalic dog breeds. Prior to her current path she worked as a researcher in animal conservation at Imperial College in London, UK. After receiving her undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in animal science Mary has devoted herself to making a difference in the lives of animals. Mary has always been passionate about animal welfare and conservation and enjoys being able to share her knowledge to provide valuable information to her readers.

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