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Pets and Health

Owning a pet is both a pleasure and a mood-stabilizing influence for people in this sometimes troubled sea of life. Pet ownership may even help you live longer. A Swiss study showed that cat ownership helps alleviate negative moods to a degree only paralleled by human companionship. The very presence of dog or cat ownership will often buoy folk out of anxiety and depression by providing companionship and a focus for the owner's attention. Pets also improve the quality of people's lives by facilitating social exchange and there are health benefits to owning pets, too. One study showed that petting and talking to dogs reduces blood pressure and increases natural mood-enhancing chemicals, while reducing stress hormones. It has been found that dog and cat owners make fewer annual visits to their doctor, are less likely to be on heart medication and sleep more soundly than non-pet owners. The Baker Medical Research Institute in Australia reports that pet owners have lower blood pressure and cholesterol and triglyceride levels than non-owners. Other studies confirm similar benefits, including increased ability to handle psychological and physical stress. People recovering from debility are more likely to comply with rehabilitation programs in the presence of a pet and have increased self-esteem and less depression. And pet therapy for sick or elderly people really works, but if you have your own pet at home you may not even need a doctor. Think of it like this, a pet a day keeps the doctor away. Bottom line: If you own a pet, interact with it, pet it, talk to it and talk about it with your friends, you are likely to be happier, healthier and wiser than if you try to tough it out alone. So now you see that the Humane Society's mission statement ŒPets for Life' does not apply solely to the commitment you need to make to the pet but also the health benefits that accrue.

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