Some Very Good Reasons to Own a Pet

It is storming outside, and my dog is afraid of storms. In fact, she is shaking like a leaf, so I am sitting on the floor holding her. I’ve been here for quite a while. Having a dog is new to me. To be honest, this fluffy, white ball of fur belongs to my daughter and son-in-law. But since I’m living here and spending hours every day with her, I feel a certain sense of ownership. I can see that dogs require a lot of work, love, and expense, but according to dog owners and the latest science, they are well worth the costs. To learn the benefits of owning a dog (or cat), I did a little research. Here is some of what I found:

  • “Ongoing research is showing that the health benefits of owning a dog are undeniable. Dog owners have lower blood pressure and healthier cholesterol levels, and a lower risk of heart disease, than non-owners.” —HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL
  • “Dog walking was associated with lower body mass index, fewer activities-of-daily-living limitations, fewer doctor visits, and more frequent moderate and vigorous exercise. People with higher degrees of pet bonding were more likely to walk their dogs…” —THE GERONTOLOGIST
  • “There is now mounting evidence to suggest that companion animals, such as dogs and cats, can enhance the health of their human owners and may thus contribute significantly to the health expenditure of our country.” —JOURNAL OF SOCIAL ISSUES
  • “Dog owners walked significantly longer and had significantly lower serum triglycerides than non-pet owners. Results suggest that pets may be good for your health.” —JOURNAL OF NUTRITION FOR THE ELDERLY
  • “Increasing emphasis has been given to the healthy role of animal company on persons affected by both somatic and mental disorders. Pet therapy plays an important role in psychological, educational and physical rehabilitation and aims to improve the well-being of patients as a whole and improve their quality of life.” —PYSCHOGERIATRICS
  • “The 12-year study included over 3.4 million Swedish adults ages 40 to 80. Using data from national health sources and dog ownership registries, researchers found that dog owners had a lower risk of death due to heart disease.” —HARVARD HEART LETTER
  • “For elderly pet owners, who often live alone or in group facilities, pets can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, increase social interaction and physical activity, and help them learn.” —AGINGCARE.COM
  • “If your nest is empty – by circumstance or by choice – think about getting a dog. Known for their devotion and happy dances, dogs can take a big bite out of isolation. Just hanging out with a furry friend, studies show, has a revitalizing effect.” —AARP

None of this is surprising, but it’s always nice to have one’s instincts reinforced by science.