A few amazing benefits of pet ownership
Owning pets seems to reduce the likelihood of developing allergies.
Conventional wisdom suggests that pets increase children's risk of developing allergies, however, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, children who grow up with pets have a reduced risk of developing pet allergies as well as allergies to pollen and mould. The study also found that children exposed to pets (cats in particular) were at less risk of developing asthma.
Pets play a significant role in children's social development and help to foster a positive self-image.
A study in the UK has explored children’s perceptions of the social support gained from relationships with their pets and with people – looking at who they would turn to first in certain situations. Pets featured prominently in children’s selections, providing comfort, companionship and a confidante in a similar manner to humans.
Various sources show that a huge 90% of children who own a dog regard it as an unconditional friend and listener. Pet dogs have a stabilising and therapeutic effect.
Pets have been shown to help children learn basic skills like reading, as well as overcome speech disorders like stuttering.
In one German study, in the first year after a parental divorce, children with a dog were more socially integrated and less aggressive. Children without a dog demonstrated more extreme behaviour – more stubborn, highly irritable and more prone to vandalism. The reasons are clear – dogs represent a constant positive emotional influence, give a sense of responsibility and a sense of freedom from conflict and disappointment.
Pets encourage social interactions in adults.
Pets are excellent companions but they can also coax less sociable owners out of their shells. Walks in the forest or to a park mean more opportunity for social interaction, with your pet acting as a handy ice-breaker. Pets also help to stave off feelings of isolation and loneliness in singles, divorcees and the elderly.
Results of questionnaires given to people suffering with, and recovering from serious illness indicate that pets assist individuals in coping and recovery by (a) providing empathy and "therapy"; (b) providing connections that can assist in redeveloping social avenues; (c) serving as "family" in the absence of or in addition to human family members; and (d) supporting self-efficacy and strengthening a sense of empowerment. Pets appear to provide more benefits than merely companionship.
Dogs tend to help increase our levels of exercise.
Dog ownership appears to have associated health benefits as a result of increased physical activity through dog walking.
Two formal studies (in Japanese adults and adults of diverse ethnicities in California) showed that dog owners had higher physical activity levels than owners of other kinds of pets and those without any pets, suggesting that dogs may play a major role in promoting physical activity.
Pets help us cope with stress and reduce the risk of heart disease.
A study in the US found that a group of stockbrokers who owned pets had lower blood pressure readings during times of stress than those who did not. Owning a companion animal can help to reduce stress and hypertension. In turn, this helps to reduce the risk of a heart attack and heart disease.
The 10 Points of Responsible Pet Ownership
According to the South African Companion Animal Council the following basic requirements are necessary to realise the full benefits of owning a companion animal:
1. Make provision for the care of your pet for its entire lifespan
2. Choose your pet carefully to match your lifestyle and home environment
3. Interact positively with your pet every day
4. Provide adequate shelter and protection from harm
5. Feed a specifically prepared pet food to meet your pet's nutritional needs and provide fresh, clean drinking water
6. Take your pet to a veterinarian for a wellness examination at least once a year
7. Ensure that your pet receives regular vaccinations at your local veterinarian throughout its life
8. Always choose an approved preventative treatment against external (fleas and ticks) and internal (worms) parasites and treat your pet regularly
9. Responsible breeders register their breeding pets with a recognised breeders' association
10. All male and female pets should be sterilised if they are not intended to be bred