Your Pet and your health


Your Pet and Your Health

Many of us agree that we should do everything within our power to make sure that our companion animals enjoy the best possible health.  But did you know that simply by being a part of your life, your dog or cat could actually help you to be not only happier but healthier, too?

Of course you did.  It’s all part of the privilege (and fun!) of being a pet parent.  What you may not know is that there’s plenty of science to back it up.  A wealth of knowledge regarding the health benefits associated with having companion animals has been accumulated over the last two decades, including numerous research studies in the U.S. and abroad.

 A study published in The British Journal of Health Psychology reports that people who have companion animals tended to be healthier than those who did not.  Additionally, when a dog was part of the family, the members had fewer minor ailments, lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol.  Although the explanation for these advantages is unclear, researchers speculated that all benefits could be accounted for by reduced levels of stress, possibly due to increased physical activity and levels of social interaction.

The positive effects of having a canine companion have also been chronicled in research published in the American Journal of Cardiology.  The year-long study documented the effect of having a canine companion in 369 patients who had suffered an acute heart attack.  The positive effects were nothing short of extraordinary!  The patients who had a dog in the home had a much better chance of survival.  Over 7% of patients without a dog died during the study, compared with only 1% of those who had a canine companion.

Researchers at the University of Leicester found that when pets are in a household, children six years and younger develop social skills at an accelerated rate.  Additionally, these children tend to have better coordination, improved confidence, superior communication skills and are even less likely to have allergies!

The British Medical Journal concluded that pets serve a vital need for socialization, especially for those at a higher risk for isolation, like those with physical limitations that might prevent opportunities for social interaction.  Most medical professionals agree that the broader the network of social contacts, the better we are able to deal with difficult life issues.  This study, and others like it, supports the idea that this need for social relations can be fulfilled equally well by companion animals as with people.

And a survey by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association revealed that bringing a companion animal to the office resulted in higher worker productivity.

These and many other studies reinforce what we as pet parents have suspected all along … that our beloved four-footed companions are integral parts of our families, enriching our lives beyond measure.

If you have a story about how your companion animal has improved your life, we’d like to know about it.  Share your personal anecdote with us at

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Posted: 09/24/2008 at 03:31 PM
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Posted: 09/24/2008 at 03:31 PM
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