The Punxsutawney Spirit
How you can benefit from having a pet
Pets have been kept for centuries. Statistics from various sources indicate North Americans own millions of dogs, cats, birds, small mammals and reptiles.
Pets’ affable nature and loving looks are enough for many people to welcome them into their homes, but the benefits of having a pet extends beyond their appearances and temperaments.
• Pets can help prevent loneliness. Loneliness affects people of all ages, but it is particularly problematic among seniors. Older adults who may be isolated can benefit from having a pet around. According to a study published in Aging & Mental Health, older adults who owned pets were 36 percent less likely to say they were lonely compared to those who didn’t have an animal companion.
• Pets can save lives. Pets can be trained to perform various tasks around the house and in the community. Rescue animals assist in finding people after natural disasters. Medical alert pets can help people with debilitating illnesses and assist physically impaired people with everyday tasks.
• Pets help lower allergy risks. Keeping pets around can reduce a child’s likelihood of developing allergies by as much as 33 percent, according to a study by pediatrician James E. Gern that was published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. People exposed early on to animals tend to develop stronger immune systems overall.
• Pets provide socialization opportunities. A pet can be the common denominator to strike up new friendships and connect with others. Whether walking around the neighborhood or being part of a pet obedience class or interest group, pets can help their owners expand their social circles.
• Pets can help combat stress. Talking to or stroking a pet can make stress easier to handle. A study from researchers at the State University of New York at Buffalo found that, when conducting a stressful task, people experienced less stress when their pets were with them. Various other studies and data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found having a pet around can lower blood pressure, ease anxiety and may even help to lessen aches and pains. Pets provide unconditional love, which can be beneficial to someone facing depression or post traumatic stress disorder.
• Pets help teach responsibility. Taking care of a pet can help children and adults become more responsible. According to the American Pet Product Association’s 2011-2012 National Pet Owners Survey, 58 percent of pet owners say their pets help teach their kids to be responsible through routine care, exercise and feeding of the animal.
Pets are more than mere companions. In fact, pets can offer numerous health and well-being benefits to people of all ages.