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Pets are friends with emotional benefits

Pets are friends with emotional benefits

bowers chThe relationship many people have with their pets is an important one. While many people who live with companion animals appreciate how their pet enhances their life, researchers continue to study the benefits of living with pets.

At the inaugural educational summit of PAWSitive InterAction, experts in the areas of medicine, psychiatry, veterinary studies and epidemiology came together to discuss scientific research and case studies that validate the therapeutic effects and benefits of human-animal relationships. They reported that there are social, behavioral, emotional and physical benefits to pet ownership. Socially, pets help increase our ability to affiliate with others around us by stimulating conversation and aiding in the reduction of anxious feelings people may experience. Behavioral benefits are that animals introduce responsibility and a nurturing behavior into the lives of children as a family pet is often considered a child’s child. Because our pets are often the center of attention, and because they are, after all, animals, they usually do things that make us laugh providing us with an emotional benefit.  Animals encourage more exercise, which results in better physical health (Pawsitive Interaction, 2002)

A recent UK study revealed that people who walked dogs were consistently more physically active than those who did not regardless of environmental conditions. This study found that even on days with the worst weather conditions, those who walked their dogs had 20 per cent higher activity levels than non-dog owners and spent 30 min/day less sedentary (Wu, Luben, & Jones, 2017)

In another study, 45 per cent of owners reported that their dog ‘encouraged them to walk’ and that 66 per cent of owners felt that having their dog(s) ‘made them walk more.’ This study found that owning a larger dog, having an increased level of attachment to dog, knowing dog enjoys going for a walk, believing walking keeps dog healthy, and having high social support from family to go walking, encouraged dog walking (Wesgarth, Knuiman, & Christian, 2016).

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