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Do Dog or Cat Owners Live Longer?

Do dog or cat owners live longer? If you want to live a longer and happier, consider adopting a pet.

Science shows pet owners are reaping an impressive number of health benefits. These include reduced risk for heart attack and stroke, lower levels of pain, better immune function—and yes, improved longevity!

A large recent Swedish study found that dog owners have a lower risk of death from all causes. Especially those who live without the company of other humans. The conclusion of the study in 2017 was that dog ownership appears to be associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease in single-person households and lower mortality in the general population.

That said, if stress and anxiety are your primary concern, you might opt for a cat because cats appear to be better stress-reducers. A 10 year study of more than 4,000 Americans by researchers at the University of Minnesota’s Stroke Institute in Minneapolis found that owning a cat could reduce your risk of a heart attack by nearly one third.  The finding provoked a mixed reaction from heart experts and veterinarians. CLICK HERE FOR THAT STUDY



How Owning A Pet Can Improve Your Overall Health – PART 3

PART 3 discusses how owning a pet improves your mental health. Pets get you out into the human world, help you work through mental afflictions, and, as you get older, help you stay cognitively sharp. Here is a short list of some of the ways owning a pet helps us be mentally sharper

  1. They make you more social. Pets give you an excuse to get out, get moving, and talk to people. Most people have strong emotions about their pets and sharing that with fellow pet lovers creates an instant sense of community.
  2. Dog parks, pet daycare centers, and online pet forums can give people an outlet to connect with others.
  3. Pets can lead their owners to forging new bonds with fellow human beings. In this way, pets help banish feelings of loneliness in more ways than one.
  4. Pets provide forms of therapy. Research done on kids with autism show they are able to be more social and less anxious when they have therapy animals nearby. And as the bond grows between a pet and a child on the autism spectrum, the child becomes better at sharing with others and offering comfort to those in need—when compared to similarly-afflicted children who don’t have a pet in the house.
  5. For kids with ADHD, caring for a pet can help the child learn to plan ahead and schedule things like daily feedings. Getting outside and playing with a dog can also help an ADHD-afflicted child burn off extra energy, which helps them focus later in the day.
  6. For those with PTSD, grooming and riding horses has been found to lessen their stress.
  7. Pets ease the struggle of addiction recovery. Addiction experts increasingly are suggesting their patients get service dogs. One reason is that pets help you stay in the here and now. This mindfulness engages your prefrontal cortex—the part of the brain responsible for executive function. The more that part of the brain is activated, the more you are able to make healthy choices and develop good habits. In other words, having a pet can help you replace negative, destructive habits with positive ones.
  8. Dogs help boost cognition in seniors. In older adults, having a pet—a dog, in particular—can help keep memory and other mental functions intact longer. A study by the University of Richmond found that dog owners over the age of 65 performed better on cognitive and memory tests than those their age who didn’t own a dog. Some theorize this is because dogs keep you physically active, plus you have to remember to provide care in the form of daily tasks: feeding, walking, and playing.

The research is pretty clear that pets can improve your overall health. With all the benefits of having a pet—to your health and your life—it’s no surprise so many people view them as essential member of the family.

 

Owning a Pet Can Help Improve Your Overall Health – PART 1

Did you know that owning a pet can help improve your overall health? Our dogs are part of our family. Some might say a little “too much” since they sleep in our bed and cuddle up on the couch with us!  See all the ways pet owners’ health can prosper—physically, mentally, and emotionally.

This series in divided into 3 parts – the physical, mental and emotional benefits of pet ownership.

PART 1 – Physical Benefits of Owning a Pet

  1. Exercising, caring for, and just being around pets can boost your overall physical health, lower your risk of developing certain heart-related issues, and ease your aches and pains.
  2. Pet owners have a better level of fitness. You won’t burn a whole lot of calories watching your pet fish swim around in its bowl. But if you have a dog, you’re likely getting more exercise than those who don’t. Turns out that knowing your pet needs exercise is a powerful motivator to get out and walk. About half of dog owners get at least 30 minutes of exercise per day, five days per week. That’s the recommended amount. And the benefits don’t stop there. Dog walkers also walk more vigorously than when walking alone, and saw a greater improvement in fitness than those who walked with a human companion. People often talk each other out of getting exercise, but we don’t try to make those lame excuses to our pooches.
  3. Pets improve your heart health. Watching a cute kitten play or snuggling a dog can be heartwarming. It can also just be plain good for your heart. Pet owners are more likely to have lower resting heart rates and blood pressure than those who are pet-free. And having a dog can increase your likelihood of survival a year after a heart attack. Cats are particularly good for your circulation and cardiovascular health. Studies show that owning a cat at some point in your life can decrease your odds of dying from a heart attack. Cat owners also tend to have fewer strokes. While they fill your heart with love, pets also help keep your heart strong.
  4. Pet owners can see lower cholesterol and triglycerides levels.  This could be, in part, because pet owners tend to be more active. Pets also have been known to warn their diabetic owners ahead of dangerous drops in blood sugar—about one third of dogs with diabetic owners have shown this ability.
  5. Chronic pain sufferers find some relief when they own pets. Research is unclear as to why pets appear to make it easier to cope with painful conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. Some suspect that caring for a pet helps take your mind off your discomfort and problems. Additionally, when you snuggle up against a warm pet, the heat can soothe pains associated with conditions like fibromyalgia.
  6. Animals help children build up stronger immunity. Research shows that children who grow up in a household with a dog, cat, or on a farm with livestock are less likely to have allergies. Although pets can be one of the common triggers for asthma, researchers say babies that grow up in a house with a cat are actually less likely to develop the condition when they’re older—unless the mother is allergic to cats.

Look for PART 2 in this series about how owning a pet can help your mental health.