Numerous studies and anecdotal reports worldwide attest to the wide array of health benefits of owning a pet, here are some of them:
· Healthier heart. With all other things being equal, people with pets have been found to have lower blood pressure than those without. Having normal blood pressure also puts less stress on the heart, giving the individual an overall better cardiovascular system.
· Ah-choo no more. Children who have been exposed to pets from infancy have also been found to be less prone to allergies and eczema. These children have also been found to have more self-confidence and be generally healthier. Respectively, these are attributed to the unconditional love that animals show and their regular exposure to germs and allergens (e.g. pet dander). Experts, however, caution parents that some research also showed that pets may increase the likelihood of asthma attacks. So a consultation with your child’s pediatrician is prudent before acquiring a furry friend.
· Blues be gone. Pets can help ease depression because of the unconditional love they offer. Their loyalty and dependence also give the owner a sense of purpose and belonging which can help improve their self-esteem.
· Specialized help. Some dogs are also trained and called upon to help people with more specific needs. These dogs are generally termed as working dogs. We’ve all probably heard of seeing-eye dogs and bomb-sniffing dogs. But nowadays, man’s best friend can also be “employed” as a peanut detector, cancer sniffer, or seizure/diabetic attack warning system. Dogs’ noses are said to be so keen that they can detect the tiniest amounts of nuts in food so that they can warn their (peanut-allergic) owners not to eat it. Some dogs can sense changes in your breath, blood chemistry, or body that are attributable to certain forms of cancer or diabetes.
At a time where the cost of treatment, medication, and health insurance are much needed but hardly accessible for many, maybe it’s time for us to revisit what a lot of us can easily “afford” and open not only our homes, but also our hearts, to animals.