LiveSmart: Pets and Good Health – A Winning Combination!

Countless studies have reported what animal lovers all over are happy to confirm – having a pet is good for your physical and mental health!

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the health benefits of owning a pet are numerous, with many of them direct spinoffs from the effect of pets in minimizing emotional stress. In one study study published by the CDC, subjects were better able to manage a stressful situation when in the presence of their pets than in the presence of a spouse, family member or friend.

Lower stress also usually means better heart health. Pet owners have lower blood pressure, a better cholesterol profile and are more likely to survive a heart attack, according to numerous studies. A recent study published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, suggested that dog ownership is linked to a 21 percent reduction in the risk of death for people with heart disease.

According to another study, within the first few months of acquiring a pet, subjects showed a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, a reduction in everyday health problems, and less need for physician services.

Owning a pet may also reduce your risk of depression, anxiety, and loneliness. And studies have shown attending to the needs of a pet keeps their owners mentally sharp and adds structure and meaning to life.

According to a study published by the National Institutes of Health, participants who owned a pet reported an increased feeling of compassion for other people. The sense of awareness and accountability that comes with pet ownership translated into a greater awareness of others in the larger world, which respondents said provided them with an overall happier life.

For most of the above benefits, a cause/effect relationship is difficult to establish. It could be that individuals who follow a healthy lifestyle are also inclined to own a pet. It’s hard to argue, however, with the results of animal-assisted therapy.

For persons with disabilities, guide dogs have a long-established role. More recently, hospitals, nursing homes and rehabilitation centers have been bringing therapy animals into the treatment setting to interact with patients and meet physical and emotional needs.

If you have a pet, you know the benefits. When you see them today, give them some extra snuggles, maybe a treat or two, and thank them for everything they do to improve your health and well-being.

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