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How Pets Raise Spirits and Improve Health

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How Pets Raise Spirits and Improve Health

Pets are good for you.

Most people who have a pet don’t need scientific proof. Their own experiences are enough to confirm that the bond between humans and pets is enormously beneficial to physical and emotional health. The unconditional affection of a pet calms, soothes, and enhances the feeling of well-being.

Here I was, just beginning to draft an article about the health benefits of pets, when a Facebook friend posted the following message. “Hey, FB Friends: I want another dog and my family says ‘no’ because I have MS. What do you think? I want a new rescue dog.”

Having multiple sclerosis (MS) myself, I understand the desire for the kind of companionship that only a pet can give. Her family is probably concerned about the commitment it takes to properly care for a pet, and understandably so. Choosing the right pet for your personal circumstances requires planning, but you are likely to get quite a return for your efforts.

The non-profit Delta Society reports that 63 percent of all households in the U.S. have pets; 39 percent of all households have at least one dog and 34 percent have at least one cat. The benefits of having a pet include:

  • For Children: Children can learn valuable lessons in responsibility; caring for other living beings improves self-esteem. The unconditional love creates a bond that will be treasured for a lifetime. Pets also encourage children to engage in physical activity. An Australian study indicates dog ownership may help fight childhood obesity. Researchers found that children five to six years old were 50 percent less likely to be overweight if they had a dog. This benefit was present even if those children did not regularly walk the dog and regardless of economic status of the household.
  • For Adults: Busy work schedules need to be balanced with play. Spending time with a pet can lower anxiety and stress levels. For people who are shy or have trouble making friends, having a pet breaks social barriers and feelings of isolation. And it’s fairly difficult to stay in a bad mood when your pet looks up at you with those big, loving eyes, or takes to your lap.
  • For Seniors: Studies show that older people with dogs visit the doctor less often with minor health issues and have lower levels of blood pressure and cholesterol than non-pet owners. Seniors are advised to have pets that are easily managed. Many nursing homes have visiting pet programs that have been shown to have a tremendous impact on human lives.
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Read more: Blogs, Conditions, Family, General Health, Health, Living with MS, Mental Wellness, Multiple Sclerosis, Pets, , , ,

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Ann Pietrangelo

Ann Pietrangelo is the author of No More Secs! Living, Laughing & Loving Despite Multiple Sclerosis and Catch That Look: Living, Laughing & Loving Despite Triple-Negative Breast Cancer. She is a freelance writer and member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. Follow on Twitter @AnnPietrangelo

179 comments

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7:00AM PDT on Apr 18, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

5:27PM PDT on Sep 24, 2012

Thank you.

5:26PM PDT on Sep 24, 2012

Thank you.

6:28PM PST on Dec 28, 2011

I agree with Ann,just having the dog (or a cat?) near to you,when you'r lonely,depressed and maybe having serious pain,helps! I do not need any scientifically clear and proved explanation for that,I can feel it and know it every day.

1:04PM PST on Dec 27, 2011

We've had our cat Denzie for almost 10 years. Denzie is my daughter's cat. My daughter passed away 7 years ago, she was only 14 years old. I found myself lost, broken hearted, not knowing how I would survive living without my daughter. I finally started to open my heart to God and have grown to know Him in a way I've never known. Then about 2 years ago I decided I wanted to adopt a puppy. Well, I ended up adopting 2 puppies Lucy and Roxy. They were abandonded on the side of a road and in the shelter. Today, my dogs make me laugh, whenever I cry, missing my daughter, my dogs know and they jump up on my lap. Denzie our cat has adjusted. I thank God for all of my pets.

9:18AM PST on Dec 27, 2011

Pets not only give us company, they enrich our lives in ways which only a person with that bond can understand! My dog passed away a few months ago unexpectedly and my life has not been the same without her. I have my family, which gives me all the love I need, but the place my adorable dog had has left a huge void in my life. Maybe some time soon I will find the moment to refill that emptiness with another beautiful spirit. They definitely enrich our lives!

12:41PM PDT on Jun 14, 2011

Yes, I agree this will make both human and animals happy as long as they are together. I am also sorry that these people who dont know how to treat thier animals better than beating them up. Stop the abuse and starting rubbing your kitty's or your dog's!!! Let your hate beforgotten!
I also never forgotten about this true story about this dog who have been going to the jailhouse( the prisoners for men)from her owner home. WHen the owner got a new job and she and her dog have to move far away. Her dog wasnt too happy. He suddenly disappeared and found the way back to the jail. The dog was so happy to see all the prisoners. They too were happy to see him. So the owner was shocked so she decided( if I rememeber right) to leave her dog at prision. What a beauiful moments!!!

1:22AM PDT on Jun 14, 2011

Yes, we can derive benefits from pets beyond just companionship and play. They give us joy, help us release stress, lower blood pressure, exercise our body and mind. Nurturing a relationship with pets also develops our emotional intelligence and stability. Love your dog/cat!

3:19AM PST on Mar 6, 2011

That is wonderful Linda to hear that you and Grace are the best of friends. It is so heart warming to hear your story, GOD BLESS you both and peace be with you both.X

10:29PM PST on Mar 5, 2011

My life would be so sad without my little dog Grace. When I got her she had been so terribly abused she was barely alive. I nursed her back to health and now she doesn't even look like the same dog. I was so depressed when I got her and she needed love so badly, it was by the grace of God we found each other. That is how she got her name.

Grace and I sleep together, we eat together, and I get in my wheelchair and take her for walks. She loves to chase her tennis ball and bring it back to me. We play tug-of-was with her rope bone and watch TV together. We are best friends. My breathing is better, my blood pressure is down and my depression is better, too. We're both happier now that we've found each other.

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