We all know that we can have a love hate relationship with our pets; one minute they’re covering your freshly cleaned carpet with muddy paw-prints and the next they’re showering you with affection. However, there is no denying the various health benefits to pet ownership.
Here’s how having a pet could make you healthier:
· Reduced blood pressure. Research has suggested that stroking and playing with a pet lowers blood pressure. A study of people who worked in a stressful environment revealed that high blood pressure was lower among those who were pet owners. Of course, you have to like animals for this to ring true as a fear of pets would be more likely to have the opposite effect on blood pressure.
· Recovery from illness. It has been shown that pets have the ability to help heart attack patients and patients who have a pet at home tend to live longer. Pets can also serve as a loyal support system to bed-ridden owners as they provide them with comfort and companionship and that often results in a quicker recovery. Dogs, in particular have been known to minimise the symptoms of diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
· Social enrichment. Whether it’s a dog that follows you everywhere or a cat that just loves to be stroked, pets provide a constant stream of social interaction. Pets can also be great ice-breakers and conversation openers when meeting new people.
· Being active. Having a pet that needs walking twice a day (I’m thinking more specifically of dogs here) is a great reason to get out of the house and get some much needed exercise. Not only will you feel better but you are helping to improve your posture and fitness.
· Happiness. A pet can help us to cope with difficult situations in life such as pain and loss; they have even been known to help people suffering from depression. Some psychologists use pets in their therapy sessions as stroking an animal elevates serotonin levels in the brain. The unconditional love expressed by a pet can be a great self esteem booster and can work wonders against loneliness and isolation.
So if you are being pestered to buy someone you love a pet this Christmas, it might not be such a bad idea after all!