Is Pet Ownership Proven to Improve Your Health?
Have the Purported Benefits of Pet Ownership Been Scientifically Proven?
There have been countless articles written about the benefits of pet ownership, but many people wonder if there is scientific proof to back up these claims. One of the leading veterinary and animal schools in the country, Tufts University, has been conducting ongoing studies of the relationships between pets and their owners and the benefits that can come from these relationships. The results are overwhelmingly positive, and the medical community is incorporating pet therapy and treatment animals into more of their protocols. If you are curious and wonder if the purported benefits of pet ownership have been scientifically proven, keep reading to find out more.
When asked about the benefits of pet ownership, Alan Beck, the Director of Purdue University’s Center for the Human-Animal Bond, points to the relatively new standard of using animals in hospital care. He mentions how the scientific community showed the advantages of animal companionship and most hospitals now have an animal therapy program of some sort. While continued study is necessary, it has been proven that pet owners enjoy lower blood pressure and are less likely to succumb to heart disease. Additionally, strides are being made in the world of animal therapy and its effectiveness in helping people who suffer from PTSD.
Another popular area of scientific study is the use of pets to help owners overcome social awkwardness and fear, especially in young children. When reading to animals may children are able to overcome stutters and other issues that make it difficult them to feel comfortable in social settings. It is thought that the non-judgment and accepting demeanor of the dogs allows the children to forget that they are reading aloud and are just focused on the soothing comfort of the dog’s presence. There are many studies that back up these observations, and scientists are still exploring how animals can be helpful in addressing mental and psychological issues.
Dogs aren’t the only soothing pet, as horses have long been used as therapy animals, beginning in Europe in the 1860s. There has been a lot of documented success in exposing PTSD patients to horses, and grooming them has proven to be especially effective in lessening the participants’ symptoms. One study of interest had stressed patients pet either a rabbit, a stuffed toy, or a turtle and report on how the experience made them feel. While the toy had no effect at all, both the rabbit and turtle provided comfort, proving that it’s not just furry animals that can have a positive influence!
Whether you are looking for a companion or a therapy animal, there is a good amount of scientific evidence that backs up the claim that owning a pet can have a positive effect on your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. If you are looking for a more active lifestyle, owning a pet has the dual advantage of providing more physical exercise in your life as well as adding a sense of calm and comfort to your everyday activities.