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Are Pet Owners Healthier Than Non-Pet Owners?

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Pets related image Photo: Getty Images

Are you a pet owner or thinking of becoming one? Current researchers have determined that owning a pet can be good for your health.

Studies have shown how owning a pet can help certain health issues as well as survive longer in many cases. Read on.

1. Anxiety
A study in American Journal of Cardiology says that just petting a dog or cat can lower blood pressure, lower a fast heartbeat during a stressful situation, and boost levels of serotonin and dopamine, chemicals connected to mood levels.

It doesn’t have to be a dog or cat. Tropical fish owners claim that watching and caring for a tankful of fish can ease tension and anxiety when other pets might be too rowdy.

2. Heart
While lowering blood pressure is good for anxiety, it is also important for a healthy heart. Researchers also report that heart attack patients get well sooner when they have a pet at home while they are recovering.

"Among patients with coronary artery disease, pet owners exhibit a greater 1-year survival rate than nonowners," wrote lead author Naoko Aiba at Kitasato University in Kanagawa, near Tokyo.

3. Depression
WebMD reports the following: “according to psychologists, veterinarians, and researchers, who concur that pets can be good for our mental and physical health. A pet can't cure symptoms of depression, of course, nor is a pet a substitute for medication or talk therapy. But a pet can help to improve mild or moderate depression in many people, experts agree, as well as provide other benefits, such as better sleep and overall health.”

Having a pet helps women with HIV/AIDS cope with their condition and may also help those with other chronic diseases, a new study says. “Pets — primarily dogs — gave these women a sense of support and pleasure,” said study author and nursing instructor Allison Webel.

Health professionals have recognized that animal bonding helps with the healing process and provided therapy for not only HIV/AIDS patients, but for nursing home residents and children confined to hospitals, too.

5. Weight Loss
Because of the media, Americans are becoming very aware of the obesity problem throughout the country. But instead of joining an expensive gym or weight loss program, recognize the benefits of being a dog owner.

When Fido needs a walk, think of him as an excellent exercise buddy who won’t let you blow him off. The good news is being active with your dog can help his obesity problem as well.

Of the 4,500 people surveyed for a study by survey author and psychologist Sam Gosling, 46 percent were identified as dog people, 12 percent were cat people, 28 percent said both, and 15 percent were not pet owners.

If you don’t own a pet now, you might want to consider it, but do your research first to make sure you’re choosing the right pet for you.


WebMD – Recognizing the Symptoms of Depression – Pets for Depression and Health - Can your depression problems improve when you interact with your pet? Web. 19, February, 2012.

Reuters - Pet owners' hearts may cope better with change: study. Web. 19, February, 2012.

Health.com – News and Headlines - Pets Help Women Cope With HIV/AIDS. Web. 19, February, 2012.

AARP - Relationships- Pets - Walk Your Dog to Weight Loss - 6 steps to start a fitness regimen that will keep you — and your pet — healthy and fit. Web. 19, February, 2012.

WebMD – Pets – Sideshow: the Truth about Cat People and Dog People. Web. 19, February, 2012.

Reviewed February 20, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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