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Lifestyle & Human Interest

Pets Are Good for Your Health

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If you own a pet, consider yourself in good company.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, 45 percent of U.S. households own dogs, 26 percent own cats, 2.5 percent own birds, and 0.2 percent own horses. This large number of pet owners doesn’t take into account all those who have rabbits, Guinea pigs, hamsters, rats, snakes, etc.

For centuries, humans and animals have shared a special bond. Animals help us do our work, protect our homes, provide companionship, and help us cope with every day stress.

The human-animal bond and the subsequent benefit to the human is a phenomenon that we can talk about, feel, and perhaps begin to explain, however the actual science of what benefits they provide is relatively young.

Over the years, research studies have shown that there is actual proof of physical and emotional benefits. In particular, according to the American College of Cardiology people who have suffered heart attacks are more likely to have better recovery rates, if they are dog owners.

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People recover from stressful events quicker when they are with their pets. Dog owners tend to get more exercise than non-dog owners.

The Centers for Disease Control states that pets can decrease your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels, and your feelings of loneliness. Pets can increase your opportunities for exercise and outdoor activities, and your opportunities for socialization.

In addition to being beneficial to pet owners, research is being done into the benefits of brining animals into clinical settings.

For years there have been pet assistant dogs such as guide dogs for the visually impaired.

Do dogs make the best pets?

There are also other “working” type dogs like seizure alert dogs, diabetic alert dogs, dogs for the hearing impaired, and mobility assistant dogs. The type of breed and training is usually specific for a “working dog.”

Pet therapy can include not only a variety of dog breeds, but also cats, birds, goats, and even horses.

It’s good to know that there is some science to prove that pets are good for humans.

It may be hard to explain, but very clear to see, just watch anyone interacting with a beloved pet and you can see the bond of affection and devotion.

There are countless stories, books, and movies about people and their animal companions that warm the heart and make you weep.

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When a pet dies, it can cause grieving just as powerful as losing a beloved family member.

Personally, I didn’t need any research to tell me pets are good for my health. I know when I am sick or tired or grouchy, petting my cat always makes me feel better.

It is a type of unconditional love that is very hard to explain, but it is real.

This article appeared originally on Michigan State University Extension.

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Michigan State University (MSU) Extension helps people improve their lives by bringing the vast knowledge resources of MSU directly to individuals, communities and businesses. For more than 100 years, MSU Extension has helped grow Michigan’s economy by equipping Michigan residents with the information that they need to do their jobs better, raise healthy and safe families, build their communities and empower our children to dream of a successful future.
Michigan State University (MSU) Extension helps people improve their lives by bringing the vast knowledge resources of MSU directly to individuals, communities and businesses. For more than 100 years, MSU Extension has helped grow Michigan’s economy by equipping Michigan residents with the information that they need to do their jobs better, raise healthy and safe families, build their communities and empower our children to dream of a successful future.




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