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Pets are better for your health than you think

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Once again I am late from work but she is, as usual, waiting for me in her catio. Molly-my Ragdoll- has been with me for the past two years and there had not been a single day that she missed welcoming me with her lovely purrs. She never goes to bed without a good night hug. After a long and hectic day nothing can compare with the joy of soothing purrs or wiggly tails. A pet is not only a good companion during lonely moments but it also adds more years to our life. Though research on human-animal interaction is relatively young, the studies have so far shown positive health effects of pethood. There is no denying of the fact that owning a pet can be a demanding job but latest studies have shown that the work is well worth it. Pet ownership increases life expectancy by reducing stress level. Cuddling a pet releases oxytocin that has miraculous calming and soothing effects. Thus pets are not merely man’s adorable companions but also his personal health aid. Today let’s explore how good pets are for our mental and physical well-being.

Add numbers and vibes to your life:

Nothing can compare to the joy that pets bring into our life. They are the loyal companions who not only enrich our lives with more love and cuddles but also add at least a couple of extra years to our lifespan. Pets decrease stress, improve heart health and calm pulse rates. In today’s hectic and often disconnected lifestyles, pets are our social connectors because they help us to come out of our cocoons. When we walk our pets, we not only connect with our external environment but we also make friends with other pet owners. Pets give us a sense of comfort and well-being that invigorates a healthier and more positive outlook towards life.

Boost immune system:

A home with pets is often thought to be the breeding ground of allergies ranging from itchy skin to wheezing. It is commonly assumed that dander and fur are allergy triggers. But the truth is otherwise. It has been observed that living with a pet during childhood invigorates a developing body’s disease-defense system. A study in 2017 found that newborns who live with a feline since birth are at a lower risk of childhood asthma, pneumonia and bronchiolitis. This childhood exposure revs up the body’s immune system and makes it desensitized to allergens, building an immune system that is more capable of combating infectious respiratory illness from an early age.  Say goodbye to those allergies by letting your bundles of joy experience and benefit from an early pet exposure. A study claims to the extent that even the pet exposure of expectant mothers has an effect upon lowering the allergic antibody production in the umbilical cord. Scooping is no more a dirty job because automated self-cleaning toileting systems provide for a more hygienic and hassle-free cleaning.

Ensure cardiovascular health:

The love that our four-legged beauties shower upon us has a big impact on our love organ – the heart.  Studies have shown that pet owners have a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases. Daily strolls with your pet not only keep your waistline slim but also ensure a normal heart rate. The simple act of petting relaxes your mind and puts your heart at ease because during this activity, body releases a hormone called oxytocin that is linked with emotional bonding. Both the owner and the pet releases oxytocin which develops a sense of calmness between the two. As a result,  the blood pressure drops and pulse rate stabilizes.

Feed positive energy:

Pets whether furry or non-furry are excellent mental aids. Even colorful fish chasing each other in the aquarium provide a calmness to the onlookers. Pets are real stress diffusers for the people who are haunted by any type of traumatic experience because the unconditional love a pet showers upon its master helps in combating flashbacks, emotional numbness and angry outbursts.  When you are responsible for another living being, you naturally develop a feeling of belongingness. You start feeling wanted and loved. Your life becomes meaningful and you channel your love and energy in a positive direction. People with pets are generally happy, calm and social. They have less visits to the doctor and are less likely to dwell in gloom and despair.

Provide social support for Autistic Children:

Surprisingly, animals help kids with autism to connect better to others. A multitude of ASD animal assisted therapy programs have been designed to provide social support to such kids. These programs feature non-human species ranging from dogs and dolphins to alpacas, horses and even chickens. When such children are involved with animals, they view their peer group in a different way and exhibit fewer emotional outbursts. Parents should carefully consider their children’s sensitivities while choosing a pet for them. A child who is agitated by noise would definitely not find solace in a dog. At times an autistic child abhors these four-legged pals and prefer swimming fish in an aquarium.

Soothers for Alzheimer’s patients:

Cats and dogs are not only our partners in loneliness but they also offer friendly comfort and social bonding to people suffering from Alzheimer’s and other forms of brain-debilitating dementia. Now many health facilities have started keeping resident pets or therapy animals to support and stimulate these patients. Canine caregiver programs have been initiated to assist dementia patients at home. Pets boost their mood and assist them in their day to day tasks such as fetching medication, reminding them to eat and guiding them home if they have wandered off course.

A study published in the Western Journal of Nursing Research found that even a pet fish can do wonders in boosting moods and increasing nutritional intake of Alzheimer’s patients. When people in an Alzheimer’s facility dined in front of an aquarium with colored fish, they ate more and were less lethargic.  

Promote healthy lifestyle:

Pets, especially the four legged beauties, are the best social lubricants. They not only enrich your social circle but also help you get a trimmed waistline. Pet owners are more likely to complete recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week than a non-pet owner because you can make excuses with your human walk partner but not with your pet. Walking a pet promotes your interaction with the outer world and when you walk through a wooded path with an adorable fur beauty by your side, you are transferred into a totally different mood that lifts you up from the realm of stress and anxiety.

Provide companionship:

Nothing can substitute for having a non-judgmental partner that hangs on your every word and for whom you are the center of the universe. People with pets live a happier, healthier and joyful life. Pets are the best companions for loners because they shower immense love and bring both physical and emotional well-being thus promoting a calmer approach towards life. Pets provide a reason to live and researchers have found that patients with terminal diseases have a better survival rate if they have pets at home.

So don’t wait, say yes to those purrs and wiggles and boost up your life cycle.

Circumstances might not permit you to bring home a furry or aquatic friend but you can still experience the health perks of animals by volunteering at local shelters.