Numerous studies have been done on health and pets, so the analytics from a 2019 study adds more data to show just how these wonderful additions to the family provide a lot more than just a distraction. The analysis was conducted with 4 million participants in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Scandinavia, the US, and the UK. There were two very important findings regarding pets and health.
- People who had dogs had a 24% reduction in death from any cause
- People who had a heart attack or stroke were 31% less likely for cardiovascular disease to cause their death
The primary criticism of the study was that it did not account for other factors, such as economic status, other health issues and diseases, and exercise levels.
A second study was conducted around the same time and focused on people who suffered from a stroke or heart attack and who had dogs and the ways it helped with their health. People who lived alone had the best results, with people who had heart attacks having slightly better results than those who had strokes. According to the American Heart Association listing, dogs are beneficial to helping reduce diabetes, in large part because dogs make people get outside walking. Other studies have shown that dogs are a good source of both emotional and social support, which can help people lose weight as they change certain behaviors to take care of their dogs. All of the findings from these studies are only experienced by those who have dogs because other pets do not require the same kind of exercise and interactions. Dogs are a unique family member because to meet their needs, you have to be more active and healthy, which means you get more cardio benefits. However, there may be other factors that make dogs more beneficial for cardiovascular health, so there is still plenty to study about man’s best friend.
The article suggests several things you can do with your dog, such as picnicking, running through the sprinklers, and taking your dog on a fundraising walk.
However, they make a point of saying that dogs are also a commitment. You should not adopt a dog to improve your heart health, but to add to the family. Owning a dog is a considerable responsibility.
Dogs may provide some of the most substantial health benefits, but other pets can be incredibly beneficial to their people’s health. There are 10 health benefits for having a pet:
- Longer life
- Lower risk of heart attack
- Less likely to get lonely
- Less likely to feel depressed and lower levels of stress
- Less problems with blood pressure
- Improved psychological well-being
- Less likelihood of doctor visits (beyond regular checkups)
- Improved self-esteem
- Improved sleep
- Increase in moving the body
There have been studies that suggest that having pets has the opposite effect, especially increasing the likelihood of asthma, high blood pressure, and headaches. The problem is that different studies have different results. As with every other aspect of a person’s health, the end results are based on the individual. The idea that pets have positive health results universally simply isn’t true, but it is far more likely that a person will have more benefits than disadvantages.
Studies have shown that pets do tend to have a positive effect on most people’s emotions and moods, so it is a nearly universal positive in the short-term. There isn’t any definitive data about long-term emotional disorders, like depression. When it comes to health, there are a lot of variable factors that can make a pet extremely beneficial to a person’s health, more detrimental, or no real change to your health.
This is why it’s important to bring a pet home only if you are able to take on the responsibility, financial costs, and time needed to really care for a pet.
If you want to learn more about how dogs can really help you, check out the full article at The Benefits of Owning a Dog – and the Surprising Science behind It.