Thursday, October 15, 2015

Pets are the Best Medicine

Whether it’s studies on heart disease, stroke, immunity, allergies, depression, or anxiety, there is an common finding showing up in more and more medical research these days: It helps to have a pet. You don’t have to look hard to find a new report on the positive impacts of pets on our physical and mental health. Indeed, caring for a pet has been linked to everything from physical health to happiness to longevity. The rationale, though, is simpler than you may think. Properly caring for a pet provides us with three key components of a long and healthy life: exercise, purpose, and companionship. 

We all know it: Exercise every day keeps the doctor away. Whether it’s taking Fido for a hike or batting cat nip toys back and forth on the floor with Fluffy, pets get us off the couch and moving, without having to pack a bag for the gym or subscribe to the newest costly at-home fitness program. Our commitment to caring for our pet’s physical needs doubles as caring for our own.

Caring for a pet also provides a sense of purpose and a structure to our daily routine. The thought of heading to work may not make you want to get out of bed in the morning, but knowing a furry companion is waiting for you to start her day with – to feed, walk, play with and snuggle before you launch into other responsibilities – may be just what it takes to motivate you to start your day. Caring for a pet has been proven to result in adults – including the elderly – caring better for themselves on a daily basis. 

And, pets can be the perfect cure for loneliness – in more ways than one. Pets provide us with their unmatched unconditional love and loyalty; they become our someone to wake up with, come home to, and talk to every day. However, owning a pet can also be the best way to boost our social interaction with people. Pets are great conversation starters and easy ice breakers: taking your pet to the park or to obedience classes can be a great way to meet people and make new friends … or more! 

So, whether you’re looking to get fit, prevent health problems in the future, or simply find a date for Saturday, you may not need to look any further than the loyal furball curled up at your feet. Or, if you don’t have a pet at home, maybe it’s time to skip the pharmacy and head to your local humane society – your perfect match (and cure) may be waiting for you.

For details on the specific health benefits of pets, check out these reports: 

https://www.habri.org/pressroom/20141027
 
http://center4research.org/healthy-living-prevention/pets-and-health-the-impact-of-companion-animals/
 
http://www.nps.gov/goga/learn/management/upload/Comment-4704-attachment_.pdf

Andrea Tatarski
Coordinator: Humane Education


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