Most pet owners already know this but non-pet owners may be in the dark about the benefits of having a pet. Animals make people feel good. Your favorite animal can make you healthy and help you stay that way. You may be surprised at just how many ways a pet can improve your health.
Pet an Animal to Fight Depression
Therapists have been known to prescribe a pet as a way of dealing with and recovering from depression. No one loves you more unconditionally than your pet. And a pet will listen to you talk for as long as you want to talk. Petting a cat or dog has a calming effect. And taking care of a pet -- walking with it, grooming it, playing with it -- takes you out of yourself and helps you feel better about the way you spend your time.
Better Physical Fitness
People who own dogs tend to be more physically active and less obese than people who don't. Taking your dog for a daily 30-minute walk will keep you moving and ensure that you meet the minimum recommendations for healthy physical activity. Two 15-minute walks, one in the morning and one in the evening, will do the same thing. And after that, just playing fetch in the back yard with your dog will earn you healthful dividends.
Fewer Allergies, Stronger Immunity
Researchers have found that when children grow up in a home with a dog or cat they are less likely to develop allergies. The same is true for kids who live on a farm with large animals. In addition, children with pets have higher levels of certain immune system chemicals and therefore have a stronger immune system. This will help keep them healthy as they get older.
Overcoming the Limitations of ADHD
Kids with ADHD can benefit from working with and keeping a pet. Taking charge of the jobs on a pet care schedule helps a child learn to plan and be responsible. Pets need to play, and playing with a pet is a great way to release excess energy. That means an easier time falling asleep at night. And because the bond between a pet and a child is unconditional love, pets help children with ADHD learn about self-esteem.
Want Stronger Bones? Walk the Dog
Strong bones are your best defense against osteoporosis and painful fractures. Walking your dog helps. It's a weight-bearing exercise that strengthens your bones and the muscles around them
A "seizure dog" is one that has been specially trained to live and work with people who have epilepsy. Some are trained to bark and alert the parents when a child is having a seizure outside or in another room. Some lie next to a person having a seizure to prevent injury. And some work has been done training dogs to warn before a seizure occurs. This gives the person time to lie down or move away from a dangerous place such as a hot stove.
A Better Quality of Life
Visits from therapy dogs help patients recovering from devastating illness or an event such as a stroke. And, petting or scratching a dog can help a patient rebuild strength while recovering from a stroke or other illness. It also creates a feeling of calm.
A Calming Presence
People with AIDS are less likely to be depressed if they own a pet, especially if they're strongly attached. And with an animal in the home, people with Alzheimer's have fewer anxious outbursts. The animal also helps the caregivers feel less burdened. Cats seem to be particularly helpful since they require less care than dogs.