How Animals Can Improve Your Health

Photo courtesy of Tiffany Fichtner

We all love our furry family members, and they can bring so much enrichment to our lives, they can also improve our health! There has been much research done about how pets can enhance both our mental and physical health.

Daily walks with your dog can help keep your cholesterol level under control. Also, an article in Time discussed two different studies about how walking your dog can also improve your health. First, a study at the University of Missouri “found that dog walkers improved their fitness more than people who walked with other people.” Secondly, a study in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health discovered that dog walkers walked more than non-owners, and they were also “54 percent more likely to meet the recommended levels of physical activity.” Picking up the lakefront path in Lakeview off Belmont Ave. by Blum is a great place to walk your pup with a great view!

While our pets make our hearts happy, they also can help decrease our risk of cardiovascular disease. In a 2008 study from the University of Minnesota’s Stroke Institute, 4,500 people were monitored over a 10-year period where 60 percent of the participants owned a cat. The research found the cat owners experienced a 30 percent decreased risk of death by a heart attack, then those people without cats.

One of the reasons why Blum decided to sponsor a service dog for a child with autism through Paws With a Cause is because of the amazing effects pets have on mental health. In a study published by the Journal of Pediatric Nursing, parents of children with autism were surveyed about their child’s interactions with dogs. Almost two thirds of the families owned a dog and about 94 percent of the parents said their child had bonded strongly with it. This research is proven through one of the families who received a service dog for their child with autism from Paws With a Cause. Daniel and Dorene Taylor said that before they received their service dog for their son with autism, they had many sleepless nights trying to get Elliot to go to bed. After a restless night, they would have to wake him up in the morning and endure tantrums throughout the day. Once they received Lewis, a two-year-old Labrador Retriever, the Taylor’s lives drastically changed. According to Daniel, “The relationship that’s forming between Elliot and Lewis is remarkable to see. Elliot willingly goes to bed now with Lewis, who models for Elliot how to relax. Lewis knows that at the end of the day when it is dark outside and playtime and work time is done, we should be laying down to rest. Lewis sleeps in bed right next to Elliot and now he pets Lewis and soothes himself back to sleep when he wakes in the middle of the night. Because of Lewis, Dorene and I are sleeping with a peace that’s eluded us for years.”

We know how much joy and love our pets bring to our lives, so discovering how they can improve our health is amazing. For more information on how you can donate money for Blum to sponsor a service dog for a child with autism or to learn more about how pets can enhance our well-being, click on the following links:

Blum Fund

Pawsitive Impact of Pets on People

Written for Blum Animal Hospital by Jackie Sheppard.