Our Pets and Our Health

A 2008 survey published by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) shows that one or more pets live in over 57 percent of U.S. households. While it is clear Americans love our pets, is it also a health benefit to care for them? “Pet ownership is good for your health both physically and psychologically,” says Connecticut psychologist Herbert Nieburg, author of “Pet Loss: A Thoughtful Guide for Adults and Children” (HarperCollins).

When asked why people are so attached to their pets they are likely to say its because of the companionship and unconditional love. This may be why research has identified numerous health benefits experienced by pet owners:

  • reduced stress
  • lower blood pressure
  • for heart attack sufferers, pets increase longevity
  • for Alzheimer’s patients pets can increase appetite
  • relax body tension
  • create purpose
  • provide security
  • create opportunity for exercise
  • increase social interaction with other pet owners
  • provides routine and purposeful care of another
  • prevent loneliness

In addition to this long list of benefits from pet ownership, one of the most important psychological benefits is that our animals cause us to focus our attention outside ourselves rather than being overly self-concerned or self-absorbed. By caring for and loving our pets, we become better people, more responsible and caring when we must commit ourselves to their needs and schedules.

Last year pet owners spent 52 billion dollars on dogs and cat alone with billions more spent on horses, birds and farm pets. Our pet can also making up for the sense of alienation many feel living in high population cities and in the intensely competitive culture we have developed over the past 25 years.

If you are thinking about getting pet, read up on the type of pet you are considering, know what their special wants and needs are, and be sure the care commitment is compatible with your lifestyle and schedule. While pets are wonderful to share our lives with, just like with starting a family they require a big commitment both emotionally and financially.

With all good wishes,
Copyright 2011 G. Donadio