Do Our Pets Keep Us Healthy?
Well the jury is in. Our pets have been shown to improve our mental health and sense of well-being. Studies from various medical and mental health groups as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attest to as much.
I saw a cartoon not long ago on Facebook of a doctor handing a patient a dog on a leash with a caption proclaiming that she found K9 more beneficial than B12.
People with mental illness, in particular, say they derive great comfort from pets. Findings from studies of people suffering from depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or post traumatic disorder (PTSD) have revealed that pet ownership reduces anxiety, helps them manage their emotions and distracts them from their mental health hardships.
More specifically, the unconditional love of a pet can help moderate feelings of anxiety, sadness and solitude, according to an online article on the matter at insidepetsworld.com.
“…they urged their owners to stay attached to the outside world and perform physical activities.” Dogs, for instance, promote social interactions and the ability to tighten community bonds, writes the author.
For some people, their bond with their pet gives meaning to their life and helps them maintain a sense of identity.
There are programs in some prisons that allow inmates to care for shelter dogs and help both prisoner and dog to feel wanted and loved. It is a rehabilitation initiative that has shown great success for everyone involved!
The CDC noted the following health benefits of having a pet:
- Decreased blood pressure
- Decreased cholesterol levels
- Decreased triglyceride levels
- Decreased feelings of loneliness
- Increased opportunities for exercise and outdoor activities
- Increased opportunities for socialization
So it seems as though Fido and Felix are good for us in a number of ways. We should strive to be good for them, too!