By Karen A. Soukiasian
Medical and psychological findings show that in general people who have pets are both mentally and psychologically in better health than non-pet owners. There are a number of reasons why these findings make sense.
First of all, the majority of pet owners understand that their pets depend on them to stay healthy. They knew when they acquired their pet that they assumed all the responsibilities associated with taking care of them.
In return for that commitment, they have benefited health wise, as their pets become an essential motivator to get up and move.
Something as simple as a goldfish can help make a person healthier. Ever notice how many nursing homes, doctors and dentists have fish tanks in their lobby? Watching fish just floating around helps lower our blood pressure.
Granted, pets are work. Most pet owners are not selfish people. The majority put their pet’s needs first. They know their pets require an obligation of their time, energy and resources.
All pets have to be fed and watered. All pets need some sort of interaction with their people. All pets need to be cleaned up after. Dogs and cats need daily exercise. Bird, reptile and small mammal cages and tanks need to be cleaned regularly. Fish tanks need constant attention. Is the pH level just right? Is the temperature too hot or too cold? Are the pumps and filters working properly? Does the tank need to be cleaned or water refreshed?
Pets require medical attention at some point in their lives. They depend on us to know them well enough to recognize when they need help. That keep us on our toes and aware of something other than our own needs.
How many dog owners agree there are days when you just don’t feel like going for that walk, or trip to the dog park? But you look into your dog or puppy’s eyes and see they are raring to go? So, what do you do? You drag your raggedy butt out of bed or off the couch; grab the leash and head out the door.
In all honesty, most, maybe not all of the time, you’re glad you did it, because you see how happy you have made your pooch, plus, you realize, it also feels good to yo, to get up and move. That little bit of exercise urges our cardiovascular system to start pumping, helps tone up saggy muscles and gets our lungs working a little harder.
Simply petting and hugging our animals helps lower our blood pressure. Ever have one of those days, when you feel the top of your head is going to explode? Notice the difference when your cat jumps on your lap and purrs, or your dog sits by you, nudging your hand to be petted? Birds love to be talked to and interacted with. Reptile owners will tell you how even their cold-blooded buddy brings them a sense of comfort.
We’ve had fish that learned tricks and were happy to see us, because we “played” with them. We even had one that would ignore me, if I didn’t greet him as soon as I walked into the house. He would stick his nose in a far corner of his tank, and turn his back to me. It was as if he was saying, “Beg and maybe I’ll acknowledge you.” Now if that’s not comical, what is?
It has been said laughter is the best medicine. The more we laugh, the better we feel. Sometimes we need those sluggish endorphins tickled and stimulated for that “feel good” feeling. What could be funnier, than some of your dog or cat’s antics? It even appears there are times when they instinctively know when we need them to be goofy and silly. Some say there is a spiritual connection…they may be right.
Need to get something off your chest? Need someone to talk to about something extremely private? Don’t want to read about it on the front page of the local rag? Talk to your pet. Guaranteed, they will never gossip about anything you have told them. They will never write a tell-all book. You won’t find it on Facebook or YouTube. Your secret will always be safe with them. Think of what you can save on shrink bills.
Bottom line: The fact our pets keep us healthier is just another reason; besides the unconditional love they give, why we should be grateful to them.
It is sad to think there are people who will never know that emotion. They will never experience how good it feels to share your life with something that gives so much, asks so little for, and without even knowing, keeps us healthier and happier. Hug your pet and thank them.
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