The Animal Advantage
As Americans, we love our four-legged friends! According
to the Humane Society 56% of households in the US have at least one pet,
and about 63% of pet-owners consider their pets to be a member of the family.
The Creature Connection
Humans and animals have a long
history of friendship. Although scientists cannot pinpoint exactly when humans
first domesticated animals, they believe that dogs
were our first animal companions. It is generally estimated that man’s best
friend was domesticated between 13,000 and 30,000 years ago! Despite our
ancient bond, little research has been performed in the field of human-animal
The founder of modern nursing,
Florence Nightingale, first
recognized the healing potential of animals in the 1800s. However, it was
not until the late 1900s that animal assisted therapy became a respected
therapeutic technique. More recently, the National
Institutes of Health hosted a series of meetings with leading researchers
in the field to discuss their findings and ongoing research. They found that
pets can benefit our health in many ways.
The Benefits of Beasts
There’s no doubt that pets give
us warm, fuzzy feelings, but there are also many science-backed ways our furry
friends improve our well-being. Here are just a few of the health benefits of pets:
- Heart Health: Owning pets is associated
with reducing your risk
of heart disease due to lower cholesterol, stress, and blood pressure
- Fun Fitness: Studies show that dog
owners are more likely to take regular walks and be more active overall. It
turns out taking Fido for a walk is good for you too!
- Avert Allergies:
Contrary to popular belief, evidence
has revealed that having pets as a child may reduce the risk of allergies later
- Social Support: While
our pets provide companionship, they can also help
us build human friendships and social support.
- Emotional Encouragement: Pets do more than make us smile
- our animal
companions can also decrease feelings of stress, depression, and
- Animal-Assisted Therapy: Animals have helped
patients cope with a number of illnesses in nursing homes, rehabilitation
centers, and hospitals.
Because research in the field of
human-animal interaction is still in its infancy, this may just be the tip of
The Pleasures of Pets
It’s important to keep in mind
that you shouldn’t adopt a pet just for the health benefits. The best reason to
adopt a companion is to provide a loving home. If you have been considering
bringing home a new family member, you may want to start at SLCo Animal
Finally, don’t forget to pay your
pet back! Always take simple safety
measures like washing hands after direct contact, supervising small
children, and keeping vaccinations up to date. Now, don’t you think Mr.
Whiskers deserves some extra scratches when you get home from work today?
Did you know May is National Pet Month?
In celebration of our animal companions, this month’s Health
Hub will focus on the mental, physical, and social health benefits they