The numbers don’t lie; we know we are a nation who love animals. But what are the wider effects of that? There is a lot of evidence that caring for a pet could be prolonging or even saving your life.
In a way, you don’t need to explain this to pet owners. Some of the effects are obvious to anyone who has ever made that commitment to an animal.
If you have a dog, it makes you get out usually twice a day to walk in the fresh air. It’s something that’s easy to take for-granted, but would you be motivated enough to do that if your canine companion wasn’t looking longingly at you with their lead dangling from their mouth?
The same can be said of horses or any animal which lives outside and needs you to feed, clean out and perhaps exercise on a routine basis.
In fact, it’s not just people with dogs who get the benefits of healthier heart. Studies have shown significantly lower instances of cardiovascular disease in cat owners too. Research carried out over a decade, involving thousands of subjects, found that cat ownerships reduced the risk of a heart attack by one-third!
That’s not because one-third of feline fans put their moggy on a lead and go for a walk everyday. Quite simply, it’s due to the stress reducing qualities of having your furry friend there for you at the end of a hard day, helping to moderate blood pressure and giving the owner something positive and relaxing to focus on.
Pets generally are considered to be good for lowering cortisol and adrenaline, which can both negatively impact the immune system and studies have shown links between these chemicals and plaque build-up in the arteries.
And then of course there are the well-documented emotional benefits. Pets don’t judge us (unless we’re late with dinner!) and they provide company, which is often crucial for older people or anyone who lives alone. The responsibility of owning a pet can give people with emotional disorders an important routine and the knowledge that another living creature relies on them utterly.
Responsibility is also a great lesson animals teach kids who, by the way, are also thought to benefit from growing up around pets because their presence can help to boost the young immune system, lowering incidences of allergies and even asthma (which comes from research dating back to 2003).
We don’t need scientists to tell us that pets are great for socialising too. How many conversations have you had as a dog owner with other dog owners when out and about? They are a reason to start talking and a great way to get to know people you might otherwise just have walked past. And when someone meets your cat, it’s a marvelous ice-breaker.
We know someone will always argue with science and research data, but pet owners instinctively know the truth… Your pet is profoundly good for you!