There are potential physical, mental, and emotional health benefits for people who own pets. With all of the benefits, it wouldn’t be surprising if doctors one day began prescribing pets. Until then, here are some reasons why you may want to consider calling a furry friend your own. Next
Lower allergy and asthma risk
It may sound counterituitive that pets can prevent the development of allergies, but that’s exactly what research suggests.
Numerous scientific studies, including one by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, have found that infants and children with regular exposure to dogs and cats have stronger immune systems and are an estimated 33 percent less likely to develop asthma and allergies. One study, published October 2010 in the Journal of Pediatrics, found that children who own a dog within the first four years of their life may have a lower risk of developing eczema, a chronic allergic skin reaction.
Another study, published July 2012 in the journal Pediatrics, found that children who live in a home with either a dog or cat during their first year of life are less likely to get respiratory tract infections and ear infections compared to kids who don’t live in a pet-owning household.
Pets can also boost your social life. Whether it’s a playdate at a dog park or just a walk around the neighborhood, pets are good conversation starters and a great way to meet new people and stay socially connected
Animals are also regularly used in many different types of therapy settings to decrease stress, boost self-esteem and aid handicapped individuals. For example, horses are often used in therapy settings for children and adults to boost self confidence and encourage communication.
Pictured: Jan Foster, left, shows off "Rock the Bar" to Lilia Buccino,13, of East Falmouth, center, and Destany Foley,13, of Hyannis as part of the Families in Transition camp through Operation Military Kids, which helps families tackle deployment-related challenges. Next
Improve heart health
Some pets, especially dogs, have been shown to improve heart health and ward off heart disease. One NIH-funded study that looked at 421 adults who had suffered heart attacks found that after a year, dog owners were significantly more likely to still be alive compared to those who did not own dogs, regardless of the severity of the heart attack.
Another study that focused on married couples found that those who owned a pet were found to have lower heart rates and blood pressure, both while resting and under stressful situations, compared to those without pets.
But these findings may not be limited to owning man’s best friend. Having a pet in general around can decrease your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and triglyceride levels, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
These findings may be because pet owners may lead more active lifestyles than those without pets. Next
Ward off anxiety and depression
Many therapists prescribe pets as a way of managing depression symptoms. Pets show unconditional love and loyalty and can be great listeners. Many experts say interacting with a pet — whether it’s petting a dog, talking to a bird, watching fish swim — provides a calming effect and can reduce anxiety. Also, feeling a sense of responsibility and ownership over a pet can deter isolation and loneliness. Next
You may have heard of service dogs for the blind, but did you know some dogs can also be trained to help their owners manage their diabetes?
According to the American Diabetes Association and the nationally recognized Service Dog’s Academy , a dog’s nose contains more than 225 million scent receptors, some of which are able to pick up biochemical changes in your body. That means some dogs can be trained to detect when a diabetic person’s blood sugar drops and alert him or her through specific motions.
Visit the naitonal organization Dogs4Diabetics to learn more about diabetes service dogs.
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