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Health Benefits of Pets

This blog topic is something that I have wanted to do for quite awhile, because of my love for animals, especially dogs  It was over the holidays that I had an aunt remind me of the health benefits of pets as she told me about the two kittens she added to her home.
The research surrounding health benefits covers both the physical and the mental emotional spheres of health.

Many pet owners, myself included love coming home to their pet companion, whether it be slobbery wet kisses from their dog, or ankle nuzzleing from a purring kitty. After a stressful day at work this can be just what you need, research has demonstrated that in women there is a rise in secretion of oxytocin after spending time with their pet at the end of the day. Oxytocin is well know for its association to child birth, and is largely responsible for the bonding and attachment that occurs between mother and child. In addition there is evidence that anxiety levels can be lowered and mood can be heightened after the hormone is secreted.

Regular walking or exercising your pet often becomes part of the routine, as you may receive numerous nudges from a pet when they are ready for a walk, having a herding breed dog, I am often herded to the door after dinner when he knows it is time for a walk.

I came a cross this anonymous quote while researching this post that I thought fit some of the controversy about whether having a pet increases physical activity.

 

“If your dog is fat, you’re not getting enough exercise.”

 

Cardiovascular health benefits associated with owning a pet include lower blood pressure and blood lipid values as well as faster recovery after myocardial infarction. One of the hypotheses for the health benefits associated with pet describes an overall reduction in central and regional autonomic activity and an improvement in endothelial function within the body.  Essentially this equates a better balance within the vessels of the body resulting in smoother blood flow. Endothelial dysfunction is thought to play a key roll in development of atherosclerosis and is a precursor for cardiovascular disease.

Although pet ownership is not for everyone, for various reasons, for those who have the honour of sharing their life with a special animal it can be a very rewarding experience in many ways.

 

References

Miller, S., Kennedy, C., DeVoe, C., Hickey, D., Matthew N., Nelson, & Kogan, T. An Examination of Changes in Oxytocin Levels in Men and Women Before and After Interaction with a Bonded Dog.

Sudhir, K.A., Sudhir R.A., & Sudhi, K. Pet ownership and cardiovascular risk reduction: Supporting evidence, conflicting data and underlying mechanisms. Pharmacology and Physiology. Volume 38, Issue 11, pages 734–738, November 2011

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