Pet Ownership – It's a WIN-WIN!

Posted: August 23, 2016 10:00 am  

You’ve heard the old saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”?  Well, how about an animal a day keeps the doctor away?!  When it comes to owning a dog or cat, there are several proven health benefits - physical as well as mental well-being.  Read on for at least 5 ways a dog can enhance your life:

1. If your child suffers from allergies, cuddling with a dog (or cat) may be the furthest thing from your mind!  However, University of Wisconsin-Madison pediatrician James E. Gern has conducted a number of studies that demonstrate having a pet in the home can actually lower a child's likelihood of developing related allergies by as much as 33 percent. In fact, his research -- as published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology -- shows that children exposed early on to animals tend to develop stronger immune systems overall.  This may not mean much to adults who already suffer with allergies but good news for couples who are thinking of starting a family where they can possibly ward off any allergy issues with small children.

2. If you struggle with socialization skills, a pet is an instant icebreaker! People sometimes have a hard time connecting and getting to know each other.  Dog ownership can sometimes be the missing puzzle piece that draws people together. For example, taking Fido to the dog park. Not only are you increasing the pup’s socialization skills, but yours too! Dog training classes are another way to meet and greet and improve socialization skills.

3. Battling depression. If you don’t think a pup’s sloppy kisses or cat’s meow can cure the blues, think again.  "Pets offer unconditional love that can be very helpful to people with depression," says Ian Cook, MD, a psychiatrist and director of the Depression Research and Clinic Program at UCLA. Studies show that animals can reduce tension and improve mood. Along with treatment, pets can help some people with mild to moderate depression feel better. 

4. Helping Veterans suffering with PTSD.  More often than not, our military men and women return home with the weight of war still on their minds and hearts.  A pet is one solution to help assist them in moving on from war. There are many programs available to our veterans that offer assistance with adoption and therapy.  Here’s just a few:  U.S. Vets Adopt Pets, offers to pay the adoption fee at local shelters for military families.  http://www.petsforvets.com/ pairs a vet with a shelter dog that is selected to closely match their personality. Shelter dogs are given a second chance at life while also giving our veterans a second chance at health and happiness.

5. Lastly, dog ownership helps increase a health(ier) lifestyle! If you’ve become a couch potato lately, having a dog can help get you out the door and moving!  Dogs need daily exercise just like people. Taking your dog on a walk, run or hike is a fun and rewarding way to fit exercise into your daily schedule. Not only will you be healthy and fit, but Fido will too!

These are just a few of the many benefits of owing a pet! If you’re on the fence of whether or not pet ownership is right for you, go visit your local animal shelter!  It’s sure to change your mind and your heart!

Additional Resources:

http://www.aginginplace.org/seniors-and-pets/