What are the Health Benefits of Owning a Pet
By Andre Carvajal
Edited bY Stephanie Dawson
In the last 15 years there has been a surge of research demonstrating how good pets are, not only for children, but for adolescents with behavior problems, and those with chronic illnesses. For the elderly research shows cognitive improvement and better performance in daily tasks. For children whose families have pets their academic performance is higher than those in families that don’t. Pets improve responsibility, socialization, and adaptation skills.
Having pets helps diminish anxiety, fear, and increases self-confidence. This is particularly important for children. Research shows cognitive improvement which often translates to better performance in school.
Other research lines have established the benefits of pets or company pets in specific disorders such as autism, down’s syndrome, hyperactivity, behavioral problems, depression, and aggression. Research shows that men who are aggressive toward their spouse are likely to have a history of cruelty to animals. This finding has led to research concentrated on use of animals in therapy for improving relationships between animals and children, hopefully preventing these episodes.
In depressive disorders the presence of a cat or a dog is very positive. The explanation is simple, due to human studies we know in romantic couples when one is depressed the healthy partner will try to help the other. They realize they can help others by letting them come when he or he needs support. The pet will look for you, or you can look for him and your pet will always be receptive to you.
There are psychological and physical benefits to pet ownership, like decreased blood pressure, increase of survival rate in people that had cardiac arrest, decrease in cholesterol, and less stress. These conditions make anyone more healthy.
There are popular dog breeds for children, golden retriever, Labrador retriever, or cocker spaniels. A mistake children sometimes make is they forget that they are dogs, not only cute and funny animals. They think they are friends of the animals without any education, problems can start because the dog is expecting to be taught.
There are groups and institutions throughout the world that run hospitals and nursing homes with animals that help improve health. Often a psychologist or an animal trainer will visit with a pet to a sick person at home, nursing home, or hospital. There are different ways to do this, sometimes a volunteer who owns a dog, a professional association dedicated to training pets for this role sends in their staff, activity staff often arrange visits as well.
Sessions can be individual or group, patients may be children, adolescents, elderly, or mentally ill, anyone can have incredible benefits in pet-assisted therapy. The animals most commonly used are dogs, cats, horses, or even dolphins. These visits help the patient temporarily forget their situation to focus on the visit of the animal which helps them feel less lonely and depressed, provides a positive change in routine, and as a result begin to be more active and responsive before, during, and after visits. Often people talk to their pets and share their thoughts and feelings. Encounters with animals contribute to increased socialization among people who are in hospitals be more cheerful and improve mood.