Owning a pet can involve some work and responsibility. When you go on a vacation, arrangements for the care of your pet need to be made. When your pet is sick, you have to use extra time and energy to get them better. Pets can be a financial responsibility and they can give you more chores to do in an already busy day. So why get a pet? Besides being great companions, pets could offer a number of health benefits as well.
Researchers from the Center for Cardiovascular Technology, Stanford University Medical Center in San Jose, California, decided to investigate the benefits of pet ownership in relation to cardiovascular health and heart disease risk factors. This is what they found:
- There is evidence that dog owners are less sedentary
- Dog owners have lower blood pressure
- Dog owners have lower plasma cholesterol
- Dog owners have lower triglycerides
- Dog owners cope better with mental stress
- Dog owners have improved survival following myocardial infarction compared with non-pet owners
- Pet owners have an improved mood and emotional state
- Pet owners have improved endothelial function, leading to lower blood pressure and reduced cardiac arrhythmias
However, the researchers also found conflicting data with regard to the association between pet ownership and non-cardiovascular effects. Most of these benefits are part of the psychosocial realm, which is complex and can vary with demographic and social realms, they say.
The research team concluded by stating that, overall, ownership of domestic pets, particularly dogs, is associated with positive health benefits.
Pets are now widely used for therapy in retirement homes and in palliative care settings. Even in prisons, pets are being used for their therapeutic effects on those incarcerated.
To learn more about pets and good health, read the article Your Pet Can Keep You Healthy.