Whether dogs, cats or guinea pigs, they all promote our health in a variety of ways. The time we are in contact with our pets is good for our soul and strengthens our body.
In the past, domestic animals primarily had a practical use: They helped with the hunt, guarded the herd of cattle and the house, and caught rats and mice.
Today our pets are family members. They greet us with undivided joy when we come home and purr, bark or squeak when they want to convey emotions. Even if our four-legged friends sometimes keep us on our toes, this is a real stroke of luck for us two-legged friends, because the animals have a positive effect on our physical and mental health. What every animal lover would subscribe to without reservation is confirmed, among other things, by the study results of the American Heart Association (AHA) in the medical journal “Circulation”. Pets take care of:
- less cardiovascular disease
- better physical and mental well-being
- lower risk of asthma and allergies
Pets Ensure Fitness
Sedentary lifestyle is one of the greatest disease factors in modern society. It is therefore obvious that daily walks with the dog ensure more exercise and thus make an active contribution to health.
Regular exercise helps in the fight against chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, bronchitis or diabetes. Some people laugh when I tell them that my guinea pigs contribute around a third of my daily step goal.
Of course, I don’t go for a walk or jog with the guinea pigs. But they ensure that I leave the house again in the evening on foot or by bike to pick fresh meadows or look for a broken beech or spruce branch in the forest. The fact that I get puzzled looks when I stomp across the meadow or through the forest armed with a plastic bag, string and scissors is a completely different topic.
Pets are Good for the Soul
Animals encourage their owners to laugh and put them in a good mood. The exuberant greeting when returning home or the heartwarming look while begging for treats, all of this ultimately activates the reward center of our brain.
When my guinea pigs jump in the air with joy, then at that moment my world is all right too.
Every pet owner could describe similar moments. Our pets ensure that we are focused on the moment and leave the stress of everyday life behind us for a while. In the presence of a quietly sleeping animal, there is no room for hectic and bustling activity. As a result, we are more satisfied and balanced in the long term. This is one of the reasons animals are also used for therapeutic purposes.
Children and Animal Allergies
Sure, animal hair can cause allergies. The immune system is overly sensitive to certain substances. Symptoms can be: itchy eyes, runny nose, skin rashes, coughing fits and even shortness of breath. The more a child suffers from such allergic symptoms, the more likely they are to develop asthma.
But in principle, pets do not increase the risk of disease. On the contrary: in the best-case scenario, they help to reduce the risk of allergies in children. The same applies here: Keeping children away from animals is counterproductive for the immune system. Often adolescents who had contact with pets as children are less susceptible to allergies and have a stronger immune system.
Which Pet is Right for Me?
Despite all the health-promoting effects for the keeper, the animals have their own needs and need a lot of attention and space for species-appropriate housing. What many forget: Pets cost, and veterinary costs are cheaper than human medicine, but they also add up for small animals.
Here is a checklist for getting a pet:
- Do I want an animal that lives only in the house or one that is in the garden?
- What does species-appropriate keeping look like? (Animal welfare provides information and the requirements for animal welfare)
- How much time can and will I devote to the animal?
- What will the feed and veterinarian costs be?
- Do you need a permit from the landlord (dog, cat) to keep animals?
- Who takes care of the animal when I’m on vacation?
- Who takes care of the animal when it is sick?
- Is there an allergy to animal hair in the family?
- Do you need certain equipment to keep the animal and what does it cost?
- How much exercise does the animal need?
- How about my fitness to meet these needs?
- What is the average life expectancy of the animal? Am I ready to commit for that long?
- Am I looking for a high level of emotional affection in an animal?
- How much space do I have for an animal?
- Which animal suits my temperament and my goals in life (a marathon runner should not get a comfortable Bernese mountain dog, but a breed of dog that likes to run)?
Long-distance walkers instead of couch potatoes: Pets are good for people in many ways. Many studies prove the positive effects of four-legged friends on health. The American Heart Association has now also got down to the dog.
There are days when there is hardly anything nicer than walking through woods and meadows with the dog. But there are also days when it rains, is cold and the desk overflows. Days on which one would only be too happy to stay at home – if it weren’t for the pair of brown dog eyes that look expectantly and beg: “I want out, I’m bored.”
What is sometimes perceived as annoying is, according to studies, a real stroke of luck for us two-legged friends. Not only that the immune system is strengthened. Pets, and dogs in particular, can actually help reduce risk factors such as obesity, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and stress reactions, thus reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
The latter was recently published by an international medical team from the American Heart Association (AHA) headed by Glenn Levine from Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston in the medical journal “Circulation”. The team analyzed a number of previous studies examining the effects on cardiovascular health in pet owners. They evaluated which factors of keeping pets have the greatest influence on health.
Daily Walks are Especially Helpful
The conclusion of the researchers in their scientific opinion: In particular, the increased physical activity resulting from daily walks is relevant for health. The number one risk factor for many diseases is a lack of exercise. But also the emotional connection to the animal and the social support that it gives masters or mistresses play a role.
Dogs, according to the results of the Detroit Childhood Allergy Study, published two years ago, can also reduce the risk of allergies in children. Parents therefore do not have to be afraid to allow children to come into contact with animals as early as the first year of life. The first year of life is very important for the immune system. If allergies or asthma appear in children, then at most as often as in animal-less households, write the doctor and biostatistician Ganesa Wegienka and her colleagues at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.
Children who lived with a cat in their first year of life later developed a cat hair allergy only half as often as their peers without a cat. In dogs, surprisingly, only boys benefited from contact with a four-legged friend. With girls, it simply made no difference whether a dog was part of the family or not. Other previous studies had also come to the conclusion that children who grow up with pets have a more stable immune system.
A study recently published in “PLoS One” provides a possible explanation for this. It shows that the presence of a dog has a very characteristic effect on the spectrum of bacteria in the household. Bacteria, which are commonly found in soil, are much more common in dog households than in households without a dog. Bacterial diversity and types are also affected by the presence of dogs – even on TV screens. This could, so the conclusion, explain the connection between a dog in the house and a reduced risk of allergies.
More Resistant to Stress
Pets aren’t just involved in physical health – they also affect mental health and make people more resistant to stress. Just the presence and petting of the animals are good for us humans. US researchers at the State University of New York in Buffalo were able to prove this a few years ago in a controlled study in which they examined 48 single brokers on the New York Stock Exchange. The result: a pet reduces the rise in blood pressure in stressful situations. People with pets are more relaxed and more relaxed about stress. British stress experts therefore advised office dogs even then.
Animals may even be a better help than partners or friends in stressful acute situations. The same research team from Buffalo tested 240 (married) couples with a dog / cat or without a pet for pulse rate and blood pressure values during physical and psychological stress: The test subjects were asked to solve tricky arithmetic problems under time pressure or had to dip their hands in ice water for two minutes. At first alone, then in the presence of the partner, in the presence of the dog and when the dog and partner were present at the same time.
Left alone, the test candidates were the most stressed. The surprising result of the study: if their own animal was present instead of their partner, the test subjects showed lower stress reactions than those with a partner but without a pet.
Despite all the positive effects: Pets are living beings for which humans are responsible and which should not only be viewed as “health makers on four legs”. Dogs, cats and the like also have their own needs and need a lot of attention and encouragement. So it’s a give and take, but the bottom line is that people mostly get more than they give. Do not get your pet from roadside breaders who put money before the health of the pets. Relate with established sources who have been in the business for years and ready to state their names and integrity. At buzzsharer, we do not usually recommend breeders but we will not hesitate to recommend a medium like animalssale.com
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