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Chumlee and Big Hoss

Chumlee and Big Hoss

Pet ownership is a responsibility, and with this responsibility comes numerous health benefits including exercise, companionship, and unconditional love.

Nearly two years ago, while cleaning the gutters on our garage, my husband and I heard a “yelp” coming from under the weeping cherry tree at the end of the front deck.  A few minutes later, we heard another “yelp”, then much to our surprise; an adorably cute puppy (brown one pictured in the basket above) came running towards us.  After a few minutes of holding the puppy, it was back to work.  However, the puppy didn’t leave our sights.  Moments later, another “yelp”, another cute, adorable puppy had arrived from under the cherry tree (white one pictured in the basket above).  Needless to say, Chumlee (brown) and Big Hoss (white) have become vital members of our family providing companionship and unconditional love.

Lots of people have pets.  In the U.S., 69.1 million homes have at least one pet.  Most common are dogs (43.5 million) and cats (37.7 million).

While most pet owners are clear about the immediate joys that come with sharing their lives with animals, many remain unaware of the physical and mental health benefits that can also accompany the pleasure of playing with or snuggling up to a furry friend. It’s only recently that studies have begun to scientifically explore the benefits of the human-animal bond.  They are noticing the companionship of the animals affects us on four primary levels – physical, social, emotional and cognitive. These affects can lead to a number of health and life benefits.  The American Heart Association has linked the ownership of pets, especially dogs, with a reduced risk for heart disease and greater longevity.

A study at Cambridge University found that pet owners have fewer ailments and their overall well-being was improved.  A pet can have positive effects on its owner (s). Here are a few of the potential benefits.

  • Lower blood pressure and reduce stress.
  • Elevate mood and reduce loneliness, isolation and depression.
  • Lead to more social contacts and open the door to making new friends.
  • Create movement and increase exercise.
  • Fewer visits to the doctor and take fewer amounts of medications.
  • Offer unconditional love and daily doses of affection.
  • Offer a sense of security.
  • Help to deal with the loss of a spouse and other loved ones.
  • Provide an outward focus and decrease the emphasis on  personal problems.

Once you have known the experience of unconditional love and the many health benefits involved with caring for a pet, you realize the valuable role they play in your life and gladly take on the additional level of responsibility.

References:

http://www.helpguide.org/life/pets.htm

https://www.avma.org/KB/Resources/Statistics/Pages/Market-research-statistics-US-pet-ownership.aspx

http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/horoscopes/companion-health-benefits-owning-pet-article-1.1598729

http://newsroom.heart.org/news/pets-may-help-reduce-your-risk-of-heart-disease

Written by:  Cindy Shuster, CFLE, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Perry County, Buckeye Hills EERA

Reviewed by:  Liz Smith, R.D., L.D., Program Specialist, SNAP-Ed, OSU Extension, North East Region

Reviewed by:  Kim Barnhart, Office Associate, OSU Extension, Perry County, Buckeye Hills EERA

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