Health Benefits of Pets
Having a pet can have a number of benefits. It can help alleviate loneliness, reduce stress, and provide a built-in playmate. It also provides an opportunity for shared connection and love. It can also decrease the symptoms of CVD (cardiovascular disease).
Research has shown that people who own pets experience lower levels of stress and have lower blood pressure. Interacting with friendly animals can increase stress-modulating hormones, such as oxytocin, which reduces anxiety and promotes empathy.
Children who are exposed to animals are less likely to develop allergies later in life. In addition, pets can provide a sense of unconditional acceptance during times of insecurity or stress.
Pets can also be beneficial for older adults. A survey by Michigan Medicine and AARP found that 65 percent of participants credited their pet with improving their social skills. This was especially true for older adults, who are more prone to social isolation.
Pets can also help people with disabilities. Many hospitals and nursing homes bring therapy dogs into their buildings to improve health and reduce stress. They can even be used for people in group homes for the disabled. In addition, pet-based interventions are being used by veterans, as PTSD and traumatic brain injuries can be reduced in those with pets.
Pets can also help individuals with autism. Animals have a natural understanding of humans, and they are often very compassionate. Researchers are working to determine the health benefits of interacting with different animals.
The National Institutes of Health is conducting large-scale surveys to better understand the subjective quality of the relationship between animals and people. The survey found that nearly 95 percent of Americans consider their pets to be family members. The agency is also trying to understand why some people choose to get a pet, and how pet ownership affects overall health. The survey also determined that pet ownership was linked to lower cardiovascular risk. In 2013, the American Heart Association published a Scientific Statement on Pet Ownership and Cardiovascular Risk, which concluded that pet owners are likely to experience a decreased risk of developing CVD.
The NIH is also investigating the effects of animals on mental health. Studies have shown that pets are helpful for college students, adolescents, and seniors. They are also a great way for children to get outside and take responsibility for themselves. It can also give adults a reason to go out of the house, which can reduce stress.
The NIH is interested in identifying which aspects of human-animal interactions are associated with greater happiness. Scientists have found that animals are capable of feeling stress, fatigue, and pain. They also communicate using nonverbal forms of communication. Having a pet can also boost dopamine, a chemical that plays an important role in metabolism and mood.
When looking at the overall health impacts of having a pet, the NIH is interested in how pet owners respond to stress and how these interactions impact their health. The organization has partnered with the Mars Corporation’s WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition to fund research studies on the possible health benefits of different types of animals.