Numerous studies have shown the amazing benefits of pets for human health. This is hardly surprising, as the bond between humans and their pets has been known to increase fitness, lower stress, and bring happiness to their human owners.
In this article, we will look at some of the amazing benefits of pets for human health.
- Reduced blood pressure
- Decreased cholesterol levels
- Reduced triglyceride levels
- Decreased feelings of loneliness
- Increased opportunities for exercise and outdoor activities
- Increased opportunities for socialization
The Health Benefits of Having a Pet – The Vet’s Perspective
To discuss the amazing health benefits of having a pet, we spoke to a couple of Vets. We asked them three questions:
- Is there any impact on human physical health from owning a pet?
- Is there any impact on children’s emotional development from pet interaction?
- Are there any challenges to measuring the positive impact of pets on human health?
Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM, is a small animal veterinarian in Texas, as well as a veterinary consultant at CatPet.Club.
These are Dr. King’s thoughts…
The impact on human physical health from owning a pet.
The positive emotional and physical impacts of having a pet are well-documented. Physically, pets tend to increase activity levels of owners, whether it is through play, having a reason to get up in the morning, or going for walks with dogs. It has been shown that petting or spending time with a pet decreases blood pressure and increases levels of dopamine, leading to feelings of contentment and better cardiovascular health.
The impact on children’s emotional development from pet interaction.
Interacting with pets as children has positive emotional benefits in development. Caring for a pet instills a sense of empathy and awareness for the feelings and well-being of another. Having a relationship with a pet provides a friend and confidant for children, and that pet is one that loves that child. The actual physical contact of an animal can be very comforting to a child and help with tactile development and that aspect of emotion.
The challenges to measuring the positive impact of pets on human health.
It can be difficult to measure the benefits of having a pet quantitively, as that testing can be invasive and expensive, and difficult to perform in laboratory settings. The benefits of having a pet on a person’s health seem obvious on observation, but it can be difficult to actually qualify that data without bias.
Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM
Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM, serves on the advisory board for Pet Life Today. Dr. Coates was valedictorian of her graduating class at the VA-MD Regional College of Veterinary Medicine and has practiced in Virginia, Wyoming, and Colorado. She is also the author of numerous articles, short stories, and books, including the Dictionary of Veterinary Terms, Vet-Speak Deciphered for the Non-Veterinarian. She lives in Fort Collins, Colorado with her husband, children, dog (Apollo), and cat (Minerva).
Here are Dr. Coates’ thoughts…
The impact on human physical health from owning a pet.
Pets can impact a person’s physical health, for good and for bad. Studies have shown that children who grow up in households with animals have a lower incidence of asthma, allergies, and eczema. Petting an animal can lower your blood pressure. Dog owners tend to get more exercise than non-dog owners. People with pets have a better chance of surviving heart attacks.
Living with a pet can also lead to injury or illness. Pets may bite, scratch, trip, or otherwise injure their owners. Zoonotic diseases (diseases that can be transmitted from animals to people) like rabies, mange, ringworm, toxoplasmosis, and scabies are also a concern. However, the risk of zoonotic diseases can be lessened with good hygiene and appropriate veterinary care.
The impact on children’s emotional development from pet
Several studies demonstrate that living with pets can have a positive effect on children’s social-emotional development. For example,
children who grow up with pets tend to have improved self-esteem, reduced loneliness, and better social competence.
The challenges to measuring the positive impact of pets on
It can be difficult to tease the effects of pet ownership out from other considerations like household income, living arrangements, and parental education levels but good studies take these factors into account.
Read our fantastic Article:
The Best Age to Adopt a Puppy
The Benefits of Pets for Human Health – The Dog Trainer’s Viewpoint
What do dog trainers think about the possible benefits of pets for human health? What is the viewpoint of a dog trainer?
Julie Burgess is a Freelance Copy Writer, a Certified Veterinary Technician and Dog Trainer. She has been a Certified Veterinary Technician for more than 19 years and has been training dogs for more than seven years. She also writes for the pet and veterinary industries.
Here are Julie’s thoughts about the benefits of pets for human health…
There seems to be a positive impact on human physical health from owning a pet.
Pets make us more active because they depend on us for care, socialization, shelter, feeding, and in many respects, entertainment. Some pets like cats and dogs need us to provide entertainment more than others like rabbits or birds.
It’s always a good idea to offer some enrichment to a pet’s environment, whether that’s through interactive toys, chew toys, interesting treats, or even perches for grooming, chewing, and standing.
Pet ownership accents a child’s emotional development as well because many children talk to a pet and feel comfortable because pets love unconditionally. Pets listen without judgment and don’t offer advice.
There are challenges to measuring pets’ positive impact on human health because a standard for this doesn’t exist, and it’s very subjective. However, for things that we can measure, like blood pressure, the positive impact is straightforward.
Pets can lower blood pressure, decrease anxiety, and encourage social interaction. Stroking a pet has been shown to reduce blood pressure and lower stress because it’s almost impossible to stroke a pet and not feel calm.
Is Owning A Pet Important? The Benefits of Pets for Human Health – The Animal Lover’s Perspective
To discuss the numerous health benefits of having a pet, we also spoke to animal lover, Teri Dreher, RN, CCM. Teri is a Board Certified Patient Advocate (BCPA). A critical care nurse for more than 30 years, today she is owner and founder of NShore Patient Advocates, the largest advocacy agency in the Chicago area. She recently founded Seniors Alone Guardianship & Advocacy Services, a not-for-profit organization that serves Chicago’s “senior orphans.” She has won numerous industry awards and is author of “Patient Advocacy Matters.”
Teri spoke from personal experience…
My family recently added a new member: Wilby, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy. In just a few months, this little guy hasn’t just brought us joy, laughter and love—he’s also brought us some surprising health benefits!
Recent research indicates that pet ownership is good for our health in multiple ways. So, if you’re thinking about adopting a cat, or your kids are begging you for a dog, consider these seven health benefits of pet ownership.
Pets Lower Blood Pressure and Cholesterol
According to numerous medical studies (and even the Centers for Disease Control), spending time with pets reduces cardiovascular risk by lowering blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides. Pets are literally good for our hearts.
Pets Reduce Stress and Anxiety
Hanging out with pets is proven to reduce cortisol, the so-called stress hormone, while increasing serotonin and dopamine, brain chemicals that increase our sense of well-being. According to a University of California study, pets soothe Alzheimer’s patients to the point of reducing aggressive behavior.
Dogs Improve Our Fitness Levels
According to a recent British study, dog owners walk 22 minutes more a day than non-owners—and regular walking lowers risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and more. I believe it: no matter how busy my schedule, I am now taking daily dog walks with Wilby.
Dogs Improve Our Social Lives
Studies show that dog owners are much more likely to know their neighbors than non-owners—and they’re natural ice-breakers in social situations like at parks and in pet stores. In one survey, roughly 50% of dog owners said they made new friends as a result of their dog.
Pets Encourage Work/Life Balance
Since Wilby came into my life, I’m much more selective about which speaking engagements I’m willing to travel for. Many Americans work too much, but pets can inspire us to recalibrate our priorities. When I take Wilby to my downtown office, he immediately lifts company morale.
Pets Can Help Kids Avoid Allergies
It may seem counterintuitive, but early exposure to cats and dogs appears to prevent young children from developing allergies and asthma, according to the National Institutes of Health. In one study, babies raised with at least two dogs or cats were found to be 77% less likely to develop allergies at age 6 than kids raised without pets.
Pets Make Us Happy—and Happy People May Live Longer
It’s harder to be depressed in the face of unconditional love and companionship. Recent studies suggest that an optimistic attitude leads to all kinds of health benefits, from a lower risk of heart disease to greater longevity. Even when Wilby is naughty, he makes us smile…who knew that when he runs off with our slippers, he’s really protecting our health?
The Benefits of Pets for Human Health – Your Turn
You’ve heard from our Vets, a dog trainer and an animal lover about the amazing health benefits of pets for human health.
Are you a pet parent? Are you a Vet? Are you an animal lover? From your personal experience, are there what are the top human benefits of pet ownership?
Join the conversation by leaving a comment below.