The SparkPeople Blog

Pets Do Our Bodies Good: Do You Agree?

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
4/25/2009 5:39 AM   :  710 comments

Nothing makes me happier then to come home after a hectic day only to be met at the door by my beloved Miniature Schnauzer, Brooklyn (see photo left). No matter what is going on in my life she is a constant joy. In the past seven years, there hasn’t been a day where she doesn’t greet me tail wagging and ever so eager to welcome me home. Talk about unconditional love. There is nothing that beats the pure joy she brings to our family—in fact she is a member of our family.

And we are not alone in this thinking. Many people revere their pets just as much as their own children. In fact there have been a number of studies over the years demonstrating the health benefits our pets provide.

These benefits include:

  • Decreasing rates of depression
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Lowering heart rates
  • Increasing physical activity
  • Lowering stress
  • Decreasing anxiety
  • Increasing social bonds

  • According to a study conducted by the National Institute of Health one year survival rates for those who have suffered a heart attack were greatest amongst those people who owned a dog. In fact as early as 1987, the NIH actually led a two day workshop in Bethesda, Maryland on the health benefits of pets.

    Pets have even been credited in helping children suffering from Attention Deficit Disorder as well as teaching children responsibilities in the care they provide for their pets. Children who have pets in the home have also been shown to be more active.

    While there are mixed reviews as to whether animal visitation therapy for patients in the hospital or nursing home setting is beneficial, those who have observed the patients following such visits have stated their patients seemed to be less agitated and less depressed after the pet visits. Even patients in the Critical Care Unit setting have been shown to demonstrate lower heart rates, lowered blood pressure, and more relaxation after petting a dog.

    So the next time your non-animal loving friends or family think you dote too much on your beloved pet, tell them in all honesty, that’s OK, because our pets do our bodies good.

    Do you own a pet? Do they play an important role in your family?


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    Comments

    • 710
      I have a Miniature Schnauzer also so I know exactly what you mean. She is such a joy.. Even those days, I don't want to go walking, she makes me, and then I am glad I went. Love animals, I grew up on a farm and was never sick.. there is something about being around animals keeps you healthy. - 1/28/2013   12:33:53 PM
    • 709
      I own a Shih Tzu, Smoochie, and he is an important part of our family. I've gone through a lot this last year and when he senses something is wrong he licks my tears, snuggles against me and won't move. - 9/16/2012   9:02:23 AM
    • 708
      They are part of the family! - 9/13/2012   10:22:32 AM
    • 707
      We recently got a bulldog puppy, after going two years without having a dog. It is so nice to come home to Lola, who is always super happy to see us. I had forgotten how wonderful that is. - 9/13/2012   9:32:27 AM
    • 706
      I own 2 dogs (a Boston terrier and a German Rottweiler) I love them to death and I treat them like they are my children. I agree with everything listed except for the help with stress. With being a full time college student, a part time dog groomer at petsmart and having my two darlings I can get pretty stressed out and sometimes their need for 24/7 attention doesn't help. But I wouldnt know what life is without them. - 12/5/2011   1:06:35 PM
    • 705
      I agree! I have to mini Schanauzers, Minnie and Gunther and two kittens Dahlia and Daisy.... they are my little fur children! I wrote a blog last year called SCHNAUZERCISING! LOL. I have also, in the last comple months been taking them out and walking them on my own... something that was tooc hallenging in the past. (think too dog pulling oposite ways... barking sniffing etc), but now I am stronger, I can handle it no problem! Plus their behaviors, during the day, and on walks have VASTLY improved. We walked 1.5 miles today with no barking! Amazing. - 11/7/2011   3:02:57 PM
    • 704
      my boyfriend and I bought two kittens together in July 2010 and they bring us so much happiness :) They are little brats and get away with it because they are so sweet, you can't help but just laugh and smile at them - 11/7/2011   10:49:24 AM
    • 703
      I'm glad they've done studies, but we animal lovers have known this all along! - 10/10/2011   9:52:59 AM
    • BLUEHERON2C
      702
      The picture you see is my child. Sophie is an eight year old silver brindle Scottish Terrier. Spoiled? You bet! My day wouldn't be complete without her. Tomorrow she goes to the groomer for about five hours and even though she'll come home "beautified", I'll miss her terribly. - 8/9/2011   9:35:02 PM
    • MELLYBEANS0919
      701
      Not allowed to have a pet in our place, but I certainly would have one otherwise! When I lived with a room mate she had a cat and I certainly noticed it helped me feel better. - 4/22/2011   7:10:35 PM
    • DAWNRH1
      700
      We have 4 cats - each with his or her own unique personality. Neither my husband nor I could imagine life without them! They're not the best at motivating us to exercise but they are wonderful for stress relief, comic relief and relaxation. They always seem to know when we need a little extra attention. I had surgery years ago and was stuck in a recliner for weeks. I swear they took turns watching over me. There was never a moment when one or the other wasn't next to me. They're wonderful! - 4/2/2011   8:55:33 AM
    • 699
      I really don't think life is complete without a dog! Yes, they are work and expense, but they also the best exercise motivators, comforters, companions a person could have. Love my pooch! - 3/30/2011   5:35:52 PM
    • 698
      This is my first peek into the daily spark and I've already added it to my favorites page. I am the happy owner of a mini schnauzer and a beagle mix both of whom love to walk. I also read Critical care nurse every month!! Love the reference - 7/23/2010   1:55:25 PM
    • 697
      We have 2 dogs & 2 outdoor cats. They are a part of my family hands down and bring joy to my day especially on my down days. My son doesn't have any siblings so the pets are his buddies and help to keep him active and caring. The dogs are my furry fitness coaches and have helped in getting my hubby and son to do 1 mile fitness walks each evening. They add a whole other dimension to a family. My mother in law is close to her 80s now and has always had either dogs or cats, they most definitely give her companionship and keep her active. I do not believe she'd be as healthy or with us much longer if not for her furry children. - 6/28/2010   12:00:18 PM
    • 696
      We have two cats and I comment to my family all the time that they make us smile or laugh every single day. How can that not be therapeutic? - 6/2/2010   10:54:38 AM
    • GLORIOSADAISY
      695
      What we remember about the relationships in our lives is how they made us feel.
      It's what we remember about people more than anything else. Dogs rule. I think of all the dogs over the years and they were all unique but they shared a common streak of affection and loyalty. They make life so rich. We have 2 cats now and one of them is a dog in a cat suit. He is so affectionate and interactive and curious. He makes us laugh every day. We have some acquaintances who do not like animals. We never ask them over for dinner; we meet them at a restaurant instead. We wouldn't want our animals to be uncomfortable! - 3/24/2010   8:53:42 AM
    • SEAWHIMSY
      694
      I love my dogs. The one that I have now and the ones that have gone before. I have always had a dog. They have an inner sense of healing for humans and they give back so much love. My dog causes me to walk even when I think I am too tired or am too lazy. I had a heart problem and my dog laid by my chest until I could get into the doctor. After a pace maker, she smelled me and pronounced me "well." Dogs know more than we humans give them credit for having. - 2/10/2010   8:35:16 PM
    • MALDONADO_663
      693
      I agree that animals are good for your health. I have Miniature Schnauzers, and they all have a toll on my life. My schnauzer is name is Dixie and she is spolied. I have had her for 4 years, and she has taken over the house. She sleeps on the same pillow under the blankets with me. When ever I am upset she can sense and she comes over to me and she wont leave untill I am feeling better. When ever I am stressed out I can talk to her and just pet her and I feel a whole better. - 2/10/2010   4:47:08 PM
    • 692
      I have a dog and two cats. The cats are lazy bums, but the dog is the one who gets me out to walk. I see him lying there on the couch, giving me that look, like, "I'm so bored! Are we going to get up and moving today, or what?" and I just can't let him down. When I lost weight before, it was because I was taking him on a 3-mile walk six days a week. And not only was I losing weight, he seemed to be more calm throughout the day and even slept better. - 2/10/2010   3:24:00 PM
    • MEGRET57
      691
      I have 2 dogs both mutts from our local pound. They make me mad, they make me laugh and they make me feel safe. i have always had a dog and can't imagine life without those big eyes and soft floppy ears. - 2/10/2010   9:37:22 AM
    • 690
      I have a boxer mix that is more human than dog sometimes. She is definantely the smartest most well mannered dog I have ever owned. Jazzy is wonderful because she loves me unconditionally. She snuggles with me at night and knows how to cheer me up. Animals definantly help. - 2/10/2010   9:12:21 AM
    • 689
      I completely agree! Not only do I have unconditional love from my "Eddi" girl a 7 year old border collie mix I adopted from the shelter when she was a baby. She is a great walking partner anxious to get out there and hit the trails! - 2/10/2010   8:57:01 AM
    • 688
      I have three cats that are part of the family, and I just can't picture a life wthout them. Or any kind of pet (for that matter). - 2/10/2010   2:12:43 AM
    • 687
      This is going to sound funny, but they can only be good for your health if you like them. My cats are awesome, require little care, are affectionate, and follow the "rules" of the house. Petting them can definitely help relax me.

      However, my son has a dog who is sneaky. He's always in "no go" zones when we aren't looking, doesn't come when he's called, and runs out the door any chance he gets. I would say not only is he not good for my health, he's bad for it. - 2/9/2010   6:08:24 PM
    • LIVINGONMYTERMS
      686
      I definitly agree that having a pet is good for you, have a bad day-pets make it better, waterworks going they will clean the tears away. Pets are great motivator's too. I only wish I could have one-DH is allergic, but if I ever do I will name my dog E.T. (emotional therapy). - 2/9/2010   5:10:16 PM
    • 685
      I have 3 golden retrievers. I can't imagine the void there would be in my life without them. Wherever I go they go, good mood, bad mood they love and accept me for who I am. They really don't care about my weight, no judgements ever. All they ask for is food, water and love. Who could ask for anything more? - 2/9/2010   10:59:53 AM
    • 684
      Nothing like the warmth of my mini doxie Mia curled up on my lap (under HER blankie) or the laugh of her and our 2 cats (who are twice her size!) playing around the house. Two words about having pets ~ unconditional love! - 2/9/2010   9:34:33 AM
    • 683
      I have a min-pin-shih tzu mix (all 7lbs of him) that really helped me get through my "empty nest " syndrome. My daughter convinced me to get him although she was on her way out the door to college. But he's awesome and never complains when we go for our trail walks and get lost. When the days stop being cold I have no excuse not to take him for him a good long walk. so even if I do go to the gym I come home and take him out for his walk. He's the peace keeper in the family. when my cats start going at each other he jumps in, crazy dog! But wouldn't change him for the world. - 2/9/2010   9:14:49 AM
    • 682
      We have an absolutely gorgeous Airedale who is 11 years old. He is an incredible dog, even when he makes me get out of the house when I don't want to! He is great company and so loving. I am very fortunate to have him for so long! - 2/8/2010   6:02:17 PM
    • 681
      I completely agree. No matter how grumpy I am, a cuddle with my cat, Jasper, makes me feel warm and fuzzy emotionally and mentally. Nothing feels as wonderful as getting a headbonk and a love blink from my fuzzy darling. - 2/8/2010   2:42:16 PM
    • 680
      I have two cats andthey might as well be my children! I love them to death and they help relax me when I am stressed and make me happy when i am sad. I think they are very important to my life! - 2/8/2010   1:41:58 PM
    • 679
      I have five dogs, who I believe I love more than most humans I encounter. I also have a chameleon who sits on my head while I am doing home work or watching tv, and somehow that calms me. I have a hedgehog as well, who, once I can get his quills down, makes me laugh. So, I agree, animals are very good for health and the soul. - 2/8/2010   1:19:39 PM
    • 678
      I have a 4 year old Cockerpoo Maggie. Since my husband passed away 41/2 years ago she has become my sole companion while at home. I don't know what I would do without her. Her love is so unconditional. I smile every time I look at her. She helps relieve my stress and she makes me feel needed. - 2/8/2010   12:31:28 PM
    • GWENDOLYNNE
      677
      I have a 3 year old Poodle mix which has unlimited energy. This keeps me motivated to go outside with him. I also started volunteering at my local pet shelter and try to walk at least 2 dogs each time I go and bring them to a fenced area to untie them and let them roam. - 2/8/2010   9:37:46 AM
    • 676
      I had a cock-a-poo for 13 years and what a delight!! She would wake me every morning to walk and to this day (she has been gone for 6 years) I wake up at that time. Right now I have a cat I'd like to get a leash for!! - 2/8/2010   9:00:33 AM
    • 675
      We have 2 wonderful pekepoo dogs adopted from a shelter where our family volunteers. As our newest family members, these little ladies bless us with unconditional love & friendship. The healing & companionship pets offer is something every family should experience. We can't imagine a day without them in our lives. - 2/7/2010   11:45:55 PM
    • 674
      Shelly, my lhasa apso, is my best friend. No one else stays with me all the time and looks for me when I am not around. When all my children were gone from the house, I answered an ad in the paper for her. She was in a home where they left her in a crate16 hours each day while they worked, left her out for a few hours and then put her back in the crate to sleep at night. I had to take her away from there. On the way home in the car that very day, we became buddies. She keeps me sane and I hope I give her joy! - 2/7/2010   11:04:51 PM
    • 673
      We have two dogs and yeah I'd have to say they keep me moving lol, between the walks, the playing and the constant trips to the door to let them in and out between walks I spend way less time on the couch than I used to. - 2/7/2010   7:29:38 PM
    • KAREBEAR8013
      672
      I have 2 dogs, a golden retriever and border collie. They LOVE to go for walks and hikes. Every morning, I start my day with a walk with them, they get a walk at lunch time, and generally get a walk after work as well. There is nothing better than walking with my dogs. It's a great stress reliever and I enjoy the unconditional love they give. They just seem to know if you've had a great day or a bad day and how to interact with you. I love my dogs! - 2/7/2010   5:42:09 PM
    • 671
      I have always had cats and dogs . I can not imagine not having a pet, as they reallly do lift you up when you are down. I am hard of hearing have hearing aids in both ears. When I go to bed at night I can hear nothing. When my husband was in the hospital with a heart attack, my little Pom would bark and up on me to wake me up to answer the ringing phone I can not hear. Each morning when the alarm clock goes off he does the same thing. - 2/7/2010   10:58:57 AM
    • 670
      I cannot imagine not having my cats, Mister and Martin, in my life. They chose to live with us. Each one at a different time. We feel honored! You can see on My Spark Page how photogenic they are. - 2/7/2010   9:54:09 AM
    • SHARISB
      669
      I have always had a dog(s). One in particular who has since passed, would wake me every morning for our routine walk. As he got older he could'nt go as far or as fast but he still wanted to go. He was a great motivator. - 2/7/2010   9:07:12 AM
    • 668
      My lab makes me smile every time I look at her. Even if I have a bad day, she always looks so excited to see me, and she takes such joy in everything (such as fresh snow!) Smooching the top of her head will fix almost anything. She's my angel. - 2/6/2010   10:00:19 PM
    • 667
      Pets do our everything good!... unless you have alergies... - 2/6/2010   9:37:41 PM
    • 666
      My little one is a member of our family as well. He doesn't greet me at the door as much anymore though lol I come home late from work and he's usually already lying on his bed asleep; he does look up at me with those beautiful brown eyes and acknowledges me. - 2/6/2010   2:12:14 PM
    • JUICYSWEETS
      665
      I think pets are very important...espesically if someone lives alone. A dog or cat can be a wonderful "friend". I have a huge rotti-lab mix Scoobe...I love him to the end of the world and back again. He sleeps in my bed with me with his head on the pillow:) Sometimes under the blankets. If my boyfriend stays over Scoobe has to lay in the middle of us. It's pretty funny. - 2/6/2010   12:33:49 PM
    • BLUEBRIT
      664
      Animals have always been a huge part of my life, especially cats and now I'm on my own in my own apartment, I think I would go crazy if I didn't have my kitten, Nosy Rosy. She makes me laugh and is always here for me. She seems to know when I'm down or blue. She gets on my lap and cuddles with me. And she 'kisses' me on my cheek when I say, 'kisses'. I can feel the love coming from her. When I took her to the vet's last week, she CLUNG to me and tucked her head in my armpit. I truly have a best friend and love her very much. - 2/6/2010   8:49:52 AM
    • 663
      I don't know where you guys get these fabulous pets! I've got enough (and enough variety) to start a small zoo, and between the attitudes (cats), bad habits (dogs), and assorted other Pet Issues - birds that swipe car keys (shiny!), rodents that have gotten loose in the house - it's enough to drive ya to drink! Seriously, though, I do love them. And some of them even love me back! (This is what happens when you have an aspiring veterinarian in the family.) - 2/5/2010   8:11:21 PM
    • 662
      I agree on this completely. I have had a cat or dog in my life since I was 8 years old. Now that I am 24, They have all helped me feel like I had some one in hard times. They always needed me, and wanted love, and Loved me in return. I feel pets help us live longer and fuller lives. - 2/5/2010   7:08:52 PM
    • HALFPINTDUTCH32
      661
      I have a german shepard after my knee rplacement she kept me walking her name is dutchess - 2/5/2010   1:36:19 PM

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