Pets Can Help Us Stay Healthy

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Dogs and cats are used as therapy animals in hospitals, hospices or residential care home, as in day centers or even special-needs schools.

Pets Can Help Us Stay Healthy

Back in the 1980s when people were moving into nursing homes or residential accommodation they gave up their pets, although this was making them sad and sometimes even depressed. However, regular contact with domestic animals can lower the risk of a certain number of serious conditions. Having a cat around can reduce the risk of having a hearth attack or a stroke, according to a recent study conducted by the University of Minnesota.

It has been known for quite some time that psychological stress and anxiety can cause cardiovascular events, especially heart attacks. However, stress and anxiety can be relieved when you have a pet around. Dog owners suffer less from ill health, they have lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure. The presence of dogs can reduce the risk of spikes in blood pressure due to stress or tension. Cats can also improve the chances of survival after life threatening illnesses, as they also help in lowering blood pressure.

Animals that are used for therapy are carefully assessed and only the best behaved pets can go into such a program. Therapy dogs or cats can be used for desensitizing patients suffering from various phobias, as part of stroke rehabilitation programs or to help people use their limbs again and even talk. People who suffer from such conditions tend to go into a world of their own and sometimes stop communicating with other people. Animals can overcome such barriers, sometimes in situations where people cannot.

The emotional support offered by an animal can be greater than what other people can offer. Older people can experience the need to be needed when they are around a pet. Children that have pets also have higher levels of self-esteem and can function better emotionally, according to another study.

In some cases, teachers have introduced pets into the classroom to help children with learning disabilities or behavioral disorders such as autism. It has been shown that children that lived with a cat or a dog during the first years of their lives have a lower incidence of hay fever or asthma. They also tend to develop fewer animal-related allergies or suffer fewer bouts of gastroenteritis.

Therapy dogs or cats can be an invaluable help for those who feel isolated and find it difficult to communicate with their peers. The value they can bring has not been fully assessed yet, but there is enough evidence already of the beneficial effects our domesticated animals can have on our well-being.

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