As any pet lover can tell you, pets make you feel good. And in fact, studies have shown that pet owners tend to be healthier, in general, than those without a cuddly (or even not-so-cuddly) four-legged pal in their home. But one study suggests that the health benefits of owning a dog outweigh those of owning a cat.
A psychologist from Queen’s University, Belfast, said dog owners tended to have lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Writing in the British Journal of Health Psychology, she says that regular walks may partly explain the difference. Taking care of a dog can often leads to increases in physical activity and facilitates the development of social contacts, which may enhance both physiological and psychological human health.
As well as lower blood pressure and cholesterol, dog-owners suffer fewer minor ailments and serious medical problems. The precise reason for the benefits was not totally clear. The main hypothesis is that dogs’ directly promote our well-being by buffering us from stress, one of the major risk factors associated with ill-health.
However, cat owners, don’t feel left out! Researchers looked at nearly 4,500 adults and found that cat ownership was related to a 40 percent lower risk of suffering a fatal heart attack. The team speculated that having a cat may reduce stress and anxiety, and thus protect against cardiovascular disease.
Now I’m wondering, what about my hamster?