I’ve concluded that everyone should have a pet. I’ve had all kinds of pets—bunnies, dogs, fish, birds, guinea pigs, and even a lizard. Yet, I never really realized how owning each and every one of these animals was impacting my life.
Everyone should have a pet, or at least that’s what I say. The "pet effect" refers to the idea that having a pet improves physical and mental health. Previous studies have supported this idea (though more recent studies don’t) and a study that will be published in April will demonstrate that long-term pet ownership is linked to slower cognitive decline. Several studies reveal that dog owners live longer and cat owners are saved from premature deaths by heart attack or stroke. (Investigators at Tufts University have not discovered this connection in there research.) This makes sense, as owning a pet leads to less stress, lower blood pressure, and reduced loneliness. Indeed, it is a mood booster! Unsurprisingly, this is why hospitals and nursing homes bring in therapy animals for their patients and residents.
Anyone that’s owned a pet knows that there’s nothing like coming home after a long day at school to be met by your furry (or scaly, or feathery, or… you get the picture) best friend. Whether it’s your cat bowling you over, your cat rubbing up against you, your bird singing to you, or your fish swimming his way over to you, you will agree that the human-pet bond is unparalleled. Megan Mueller, the head researcher in the aforementioned Tuft’s study, says it best in boiling down the question of pet ownership to: "What if it is the case that we perceive our pets to be beneficial for us, but we can’t find any measurable effects? Practically, does that matter, or not?" My answer? A resounding no! If you have a pet, you probably are with me. If you’re thinking of getting one, try pet-sitting for a week or two before you commit, as pet ownership is–to be fair–a great responsibility, and we owe our nonhuman friends all (we lay pet owners think and insist) they give us.
- Irene Tussy, Writer
Source: Psychology Today