The Punxsutawney Spirit

How you can benefit from having a pet

- By Metro Creative

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.

 ?? ?? Photo courtesy of Metro Creative Graphics
Photo courtesy of Metro Creative Graphics

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