Pets and Health

— Written By Marilyn Wells and last updated by Cathy Sprinkle

The American Health Association published research on the latest evidence that pets are good for health. Research found associations between pet ownership and lower blood pressure,heart rate, and blood cholesterol. Dog owners get more physical activity and are less likely to be overweight or to smoke, which improves cardiovascular health. Among those with cardiovascular disease, patients owning a dog proved to have lower mortality rates than those who didn’t own a dog. Not only can pets improve the quality of their owner’s lives but they may also help them live longer.
It is estimated that 60% of American households own at least one pet. Pets enhance emotional and psychological well‐being. Research in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that pets didn’t replace relationships with humans, but rather complemented them. Pet owners had higher self esteem, and were less likely to suffer from loneliness and stress. Research has proven that children that are raised with pets (especially dogs) and on farms are less likely to develop respiratory and ear infections, allergies and asthma. Children exposed to animals early in life may have stronger immune systems.
If you are considering getting a pet, remember that they are expensive and time consuming as well as sometimes messy or destructive. The American Heart Association warns you not to get
a pet solely for heart health. If you don’t have the desire or resources for pet ownership, you can volunteer at the local animal shelter or Humane Society. A pet is not medicine but it can
bring joy and companionship to many people’s lives.