HEALTH BENEFITS OF OWNING A PET - Grace Ngo Foundation

Health, Knowledge, Natural Food Matters

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

HEALTH BENEFITS OF OWNING A PET


 
 

 If you are among those that detest pets especially puppies and dogs.  We were in it together, however my views changed after experiencing numerous health benefits by simply owning a pet.  You will definitely have a rethink if you have negative view about owning a pet. For many people, pets are an important source of love and friendship.    People could take on any pet of their choice, goats, cats, parrots etc, but the commonest are dogs,  which is why we are making more reference to dogs. 

The decision to get a pet usually stems from a desire to have a companion at home, or Security. Spending quality time with pets, specifically dogs, provides more than just companionship, however. These furry friends can give you a clean bill of health. Most dog owners believe their beloved four-legged canines make their lives better, and according to science, there are many ways they can indeed increase your longevity.
In the U.S., an estimated 70 to 80 million dogs and 74 to 96 million cats are owned, according to The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Moreover, up to 47 percent of all households in the U.S. have a dog compared to the 37 percent who have a cat. A reason for this discrepancy may lie in dogs’ successful mastery of the human-animal bond relationship. Dogs are shown to be apt in reading humans’ patterns of social behavior, especially related to food and care.

A 2012 study published in the journal Current Biology found dogs are able to read humans’ “communicative intent” or the intention to interact with them via face. This suggests dogs, like human infants, are sensitive to social cues that signal communicative intent. Dogs tend to speak through body language and facial expression, which makes them better equipped to figure out our moods and what makes us happy, among other things.

Whether you choose a cat, a dog, a horse, or a rabbit, the benefits to raising children in a home with pets are great,  Pets give unconditional and non discriminatory love. They are non-judgmental, and, especially for only children, lonely children, or children who have sibling rivalry or emotional distress, a pet gives them someone to talk to.
Dogs have ingratiated themselves in society in ways that not only benefits them, but also their owners. They’re an exchange between affection and attention for food and shelter. Moreover, dogs are truly a man’s best friend, providing an array of health benefits, from increasing physical activity levels to sniffing out cancer.

1. Greater Physical Activity
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Dogs are more likely than other house pets to beg for a walk or a game outside. This encourages owners to frequently take a walk or exercise with their dogs. A 2006 study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found dog owners were more likely to do mild to moderate physical activity during the week than non-dog owners. These owners walked an average of 300 minutes per week compared to their counterpart’s average of 168 minutes per week. This means dog owners are more likely to get the recommended 30-minute minimum of exercise a day.

2. Decreases Allergy Risk
Dogs may be a trigger for people with allergies, but they can the lessen allergy risk for kids growing up with them. The effect is so strong that even pregnant women who live with a dog can still reduce the likelihood of their child developing allergies. A 2004 study published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found exposure to dogs in infancy, especially around the time of birth, can actually influence children’s immune development while reducing the probability of certain allergic diseases. Children who had a dog at home as newborns were much less likely to have atopic dermatitis and wheezing by their third birthday compared to non-dog owners.



3. Detects Low Blood Sugar Levels
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People with diabetes may not always be able to tell when their blood sugar level is too high or too low. Trained dogs have been proven to provide help with hypoglycemia monitoring. A 2013 study published in PLOS ONE found dogs trained by Medical Detection Dogs — a UK charity that works with researchers and universities to warn owners when their blood sugar levels are out of range — were able to notify the owners with “significant accuracy” during times of both low and high blood sugar. This led to fewer paramedic calls, fewer unconscious episodes, and improved independence. Although dogs are able to respond to their owners’ blood sugar levels, it is not entirely clear how they do this, but odor cues are suspected to help.

4. Curbs Depression
Just Playing With The Pet Tiger


People who have a pet to take care of are less likely to suffer a depression episode. A 2006 study from the University of Portsmouth found walking the dog daily can ward off depression and loneliness. The dog walkers surveyed reported that the exercise gave them a better sense of well-being as they met people along their strolls and felt instantly happier. The participants also reported when they were feeling low, they always felt better once they took a walk with their dog outside.

5. Sniffs Out Cancer
Dogs’ sense of smell is so strong that they are able to detect cancer in as little as three hours. There’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that has later been supported by scientific studies. A recent study presented at the Endocrine Society’s 97th annual meeting in San Diego, Calif., found a trained scent dog accurately identified whether patients’ urine samples had thyroid cancer or were benign 88 percent of the time. The scent-trained, rescued male German Shepherd-mix named Frankie recognized the smell of cancer in thyroid tissue obtained from multiple patients. “Frankie is the first dog trained to differentiate benign thyroid disease from thyroid cancer by smelling a person’s urine,” said Arny Ferrando from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in Little Rock, in the press release.

Dogs and pets overall can help you get a clean bill of health.
It’s obvious that we benefit from taking regular exercise when walking a dog. However, it is not commonly known that over the last thirty years, there has been increasing scientific evidence that pets can help to keep us fit and well – pets can even help speed up recovery after major illness.

SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE

Promoting Health
A study at Cambridge University found that owning a pet produced improvements in general health in as little as one month. This continued over the 10 month study1. Pet owners were found to suffer fewer ailments, such as headaches, colds and hayfever.

Beating Stress

Stroking a pet or simply watching a fish swim in an aquarium helps us to relax. Indeed, the mere presence of a pet seems to have the same effect, reducing heart beat rate and lowering blood pressure.
Research has shown that this effect is particularly marked in people suffering from high blood pressure (hypertension). The reduction in blood pressure is equivalent to that gained by eating a low salt diet or cutting down on alcohol consumption.

Preventing Heart Disease

One study showed that keeping a pet significantly reduced levels of cholesterol and blood triglyceride (two factors believed to influence the disease). These effects could not be explained by differences in diet, smoking or socio-economic group2. This fact, combined with the reduction in blood pressure from being with a pet, may make pet owners less prone to heart attacks than non pet-owners.

Overcoming Heart Disease

Pet ownership proved to be one of the best predictors of survival from a heart attack, according to an American study. The study showed that those patients who owned a pet had a much better chance of surviving for more than a year after a heart attack – a difference which could not be explained by the extra exercise the dog owners enjoyed
Pets can also offer a psychological and social boost to our lives:

Psychological Benefits:

Children who own pets are often less self centred than those who do not.
  Psychiatrically ill people were happier as a result of looking after a pet.

Social Benefits:
Pets provide companionship and promote a general feeling of well being, for example pets in residential homes improve both patient and staff morale.
Pets can lessen the feelings of isolation and loneliness and provide a sense of purpose elderly people. Having to make the effort to care for a pet on a regular basis provides a feeling of fulfillment.

Ice breaker
Pets have been described as a social lubricant. Attending dog training classes, visiting the vet and walking in the park all provide opportunities to meet and talk to other people. Studies have shown that people walking a dog have far more positive encounters with others than those out walking alone, with the pet often providing a topic of conversation 4.

Educational Stimulus


As well as all the fun elements associated with owning a pet, pets can bring many educational benefits.
Owning a pet can teach a child about the responsibilities of life and mutual trust. By feeding and exercising a pet, children can also develop an understanding of daily care. Children with learning difficulties can also benefit from interaction with pets. One study found that the presence of a dog helped to channel the children’s attention and responsiveness towards the therapist’s suggestion – in effect, the dog helped increase the attention span of the children.

ENJOYING PETS

 

Pets provide us with loyalty, companionship, love and affection, as well as the many physical and psychological benefits. The least we can do to repay this is ensure that we keep them in the best of health by following the four golden rules to pet ownership.
A healthy pet is a happy pet and a happy pet can help us enjoy a much fuller and more rewarding life.
I have personally found that my pet helps provide some form of unity and bonding in the family providing a relaxed  atmosphere and a centre of interest for everyone thereby keeping my family happy and united for no one complains of having any issue with the pet. I Feel they are more honest, dedicated and disciplined than even humans.  Additionally, pets brings families together, that those with similar interests like dog owners.

Sources: Medicaldaily.com

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