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March 16th, 2019

Health Benefits of Pets

Are pets good for us?

Yes, and no matter what size, shape or color, pets are beneficial to humans. The benefits are obvious to us, as they make us happy in so many ways. Yes, they make us feel good! It's obvious how loyal a dog is to it's owner when they wag their tails, how they run around and interact with children, and how they react to danger in their efforts to protect us. Even scientific studies have proven that the benefits are further reaching than what human eyes can see. Individuals with bipolar conditions and anxiety disorders for example, are being helped with the mere presence of a therapy pet nearby.

Pets have never been a fad, trend or latest fashion. Humans have always realized the calming effects from the presence of pets. The ancient Egyptians kept animals as pets ranging from dogs and cats to monkeys, birds, gazelles, lions, and even crocodiles. Scholars are unanimous and agree that ancient Egyptians deeply loved their pets.

Domestic pets of all kinds are still in-demand as far as added members to families around the world. In fact, pets have become so popular nowadays that almost every household in America has at least one pet, and for various reasons - companionship, therapy, work and security. Companionship has always been a key benefit, and it doesn't matter if it's a cat, dog, bird, or even fish and reptiles, a domesticated animal offers health benefits to the human mind and body.

Health Benefits of Owning a Pet

Negative feelings such as rejection and loneliness can be eased by owning a pet. Treating a pet less like an animal and more like a member of your family can make you feel like you have a friend willing to sit by your side while listening and watching patiently. The presence of a shelter dog is all it takes to add value to your household and give you a new perspective on life. In recent decades, scientific research has continued to prove this to be true, and also to show support for several reasons:

  • improving social connections
  • providing social support
  • decreasing loneliness and depression

A wide spread effort has been made by animal shelters, proactive movements, summit groups, partnerships and charities to help injured and unwanted animals find a home. Even hospitals, clinics and healthcare facilities are now incorporating pets in their treatment plans.

A national survey of pet owners and non-pet owners commissioned by HABRI and Mars Petcare found that:

  • 85% of respondents agree that interaction with pets can help reduce loneliness.
  • 76% agree human-pet interactions can help address social isolation.
  • 72% believe human-animal interaction is good for their community.

Of the pet-owning respondents:

  • 80% of pet owners say their pet makes them feel less lonely.
  • 54% say their pet helps them connect with other people.

Dolphins

Yes, pets are good for the human race as they offer us peace, companionship and protection. Children with psychological disorders can positively benefit from the presence of a pet too, and it's not always the typical pet that first comes to mind. Captive or semi-captive dolphins have shown promising results when they swim and interact with children that have Down's Syndrome. Children are asked to swim with the dolphins while touching, petting and even feeding them. This enables therapists to work along side the children and animals while in the pool, and guide the interaction according to a structured program. The aim of the therapy program is to increase sensory activities and work on specific areas such as speech, behaviors and motor skills. The program is customized according to the needs of the children.

Dolphin therapy was started in the early seventies by Dr Betsy Smith, an educational anthropologist who noticed the therapeutical effects of dolphins on her disabled brother. A few years later, dolphin therapy was developed by Dr Nathanson at the Dolphin Human Therapy center in Florida. Dr Nathanson studied the interaction between dolphins and children with Down's syndrome, and as he obtained good results, more centers opened world wide.