The Health Benefits to Owning a Pet

December 06, 2016

Is a cat or dog, or perhaps another type of pet on the holiday wish list for your loved ones? The benefits of animal companionship have been known for centuries among animal lovers. A human from 10,000 BC in northern Israel was found buried cuddling a puppy suggesting that man has long loved their pets. The United States is one of the most pet friendly countries in the world. In the U.S. there are 79.7 million households with pets, that is, 65 percent of all U.S. households that have at least one pet. Of those households 37 percent own dogs, 30 percent own cats, 12 percent own fish, 3 percent own birds, and then there are those that own rabbits, reptiles and a combination of pets. Though there are more households with dogs, there are actually more pet cats in the US. There are 86 million cats versus the 78 million dogs – this is because many cat lovers choose to share their home with more than one feline!

Interesting facts about cats and dogs 
-A dog's nose has four times as many scent cells than a cat's and 14 times more than humans, allowing dogs to be trained to track down the scent of drugs or criminal
-One million dogs per year are estimated to be beneficiaries in their owner's wills
-Cats will almost never "meow" at another cat, but rather reserve this sound for their human friends. Cats can jump 7 times their height.

There is in fact, hard science that suggests pets improve their owner's health. Researchers at Oregon State University concluded that dog owners have significantly lower blood pressure than non-dog owners. The American Heart Association website states that owning pets is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease. It is thought that pet ownership reduces stress, anxiety and loneliness. Other studies have even shown that pet owners have lower cholesterol then non-pet owners! In fact, one study found that if you have a cat you were 30 to 40 percent less likely to have a cardiovascular event like a stroke.

Additional benefits from pet ownership include:

  • Less difficulty sleeping
  • More exercise
  • Pets help safeguard against depression or loneliness
  • Pets help improve social skills
  • For children, owing a pet improves their self esteem
  • Older pet owners have less visits to the doctor
  • Pets help to ease loss
  • Children from pet households actually have less allergies and stronger immune systems
Not only will your pet become a part of the family, it may also improve you and your family's health! Stay healthy and remember the quote by Abraham Lincoln, "No matter how much cats fight, there always seems to be plenty of kittens."
Categories: General
Topics: Pet Therapy