Here are 7 reasons how:
- Help for Lowering Cholesterol
To manage cholesterol, doctors still recommend that you follow guidelines regarding diet, exercise and medication. But researchers have noted lower levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in people who own pets as compared to people who don’t. This could be attributed to the more active lifestyle pet owners are likely to have.
- Lower Blood Pressure
You still have to watch your weight and exercise. But having a pet can help you manage your blood pressure. In one study of 240 married couples, pet owners had lower blood pressure and lower heart rates during rest than people who did not own a pet. That held true whether they were at rest or undergoing stress tests.
- Good for the Heart
Research has shown the long-term benefits of owning a cat include protection from your heart. Over the 20 years of one study, people who never owned a cat were 40% more likely to die of a heart attack than those who had. Another study showed that dog owners had a significantly better survival rate one year after a heart attack. Overall, pet owners have a lower risk of dying from any cardiac disease, including heart failure.
- Snack Alert
For people with diabetes, a sudden drop in the level of blood glucose can be very serious. Some dogs can alert their owner to a dangerous drop before it actually happens. They may be responding to chemical changes in the body that give off a scent. The alarm gives the owner time to eat a snack to avoid an emergency.
- Managing Arthritis Together
If your dog has arthritis, you can use the effort to manage his to help manage yours. When you make an appointment at the vet, also call and make your own doctor’s appointment. Regular exercise is important for both of you, so walk with your dog. Keep your medicine in the same place you keep the dog’s. That way you’ll see it when you get his. And if you can, coordinate taking your medicines at the same time.
- Increased Time Outside
Sun and fresh air elevate your mood and the sun gives you an extra dose of Vitamin D, a supplement that helps fight physical and mental conditions, including depression, cancer, obesity and heart attacks. Going outside also means engaging with nature – the rustling trees, the fresh breeze, and the sun on your face can be incredibly calming.
- Better Mood, More Meaning
It only takes a few minutes with a dog or cat or watching fish swim to feel less anxious and less stressed. And people with pets are generally happier, more trusting, and less lonely than those who don’t have pets. They also visit the doctor less often for minor problems. One reason for that may be that your pet gives you a sense of belonging and meaning.
For those of you with pets, continue to enjoy the hidden health benefits of your furry friends. And if you’re thinking of getting one – consider that pet ownership may be a path to your good health.
Canine Companionship Program
At El Camino Hospital, we know that the gentle affection of animals offers a viable form of healing therapy. That’s why we work with Therapy Dogs International to bring in their animals to visit patients at our Mountain View location. The joy patients express during these visits consistently confirms the love and healing these animals are able to provide. To arrange for a visiting by a therapy dog, please call 650-988-7568.
This article first appeared in the June 2015 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter and the Winter 2015 issue of Chinese Health Initiative Wellness eNewsletter. Learn more about the Chinese Health Initiative.