A rare ray of hope emerged during the coronavirus pandemic as people trapped at home sought pet companionship through foster care or pet adoption. Their instinct to shelter in place with a dog or cat was right, because in times of stress, pets provide people with emotional and social support.
For the elderly, pets are a buffer against loneliness and isolation, but the benefits go beyond stimulating the human mind. More and more evidence suggests that our four-legged friends also improve our health.
“When you give love to a pet, you get unconditional love in return,” says Jean Shafiroff, national spokesperson for American Humane and owner of Rosita, a mixed rescue dog. “It’s a very therapeutic bond.
Biologist and public health researcher Erika Friedmann has studied how therapeutic this link is. His research with colleagues was among the first to document the health benefits of owning a pet 40 years ago. This research found that people who had a heart attack and owned a pet were more likely to be alive a year later than those who did not have a pet. Of the 39 patients without pets, 11 (28%) had died compared to only three (6%) of the 53 pet owners.
Now a professor and associate dean of research at the University of Maryland School of Nursing, Friedmann was the lead author of a scientific article published in 2018 that found that dog owners were adopting dog patterns. healthier lives, including getting enough exercise and sleeping. “Having a dog gives a person a reason to exercise and thus improves cardiovascular health,” the document states.
Research has also shown that the bond with a pet can produce oxytocin and prolactin, the same hormones that women secrete when their babies breastfeed. In 2015, Science have reported that humans bond when they look each other in the eye, and a similar bond takes place between dogs and their owners.
According to psychiatrist Gregory Fricchione, who was not involved in the research, “Dogs have the ability to increase oxytocin in their owners. Oxytocin, he adds, is an anti-stress hormone. “By itself, it is likely to promote health. He is director of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and a faculty member at Harvard Medical School.
Other studies have linked pet ownership to lower blood pressure, slightly lower overall blood cholesterol levels, and general soothing benefits, although more research can determine whether pets company reduce anxiety or even depression in humans.
For some pet owners, no research is necessary. They already believe that their four-legged friends enrich their lives. When Susan Feldman, 71, and her husband Marc Labadie, 72, who live in Portland, Ore., First met, they had three dogs between them.
“You can really meet a lot of people because of dogs,” she says. “It’s very social. Of the two rescue dogs, Stella, 16, and Mack, 9, that the couple now have, Feldman says, “They’re just fun to be around.”
Pets also pose health risks. Although they are unlikely to spread COVID-19, pets can transmit other diseases to humans.
“Hand washing is more important than ever after touching, feeding or caring for your animals,” says Casey Barton Behravesh, director of the One Health Office at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Owning a pet doesn’t come cheap. Adopting a pet typically ranges from $ 75 to $ 250 depending on the animal and its age. A purebred cat from a reputable breeder can cost between $ 300 and $ 1,500, according to the Cat Fanciers’ Association. The average initial cost of buying or adopting a dog, including spaying or neutering, is even higher ($ 2,127), according to the American Kennel Association. Thereafter, annual expenses are on average $ 2,489