The Value of Owning a Pet

I would imagine that most people appreciate and understand the physical, emotional and psychological benefits that come from owning a pet.

But to what extent do you realise how beneficial pets really are for your health?

Certainly, the value of owning a dog in the way of emotional comfort is exceedingly obvious, but what about other pets? We all know that, when it comes down to it, cats are in it for themselves. They certainly express love and affection towards you, but there’s usually an underlying motive to most things they do. Even the most fanatic of cat owners can’t deny this.

But are there health benefits in owning cats as well as dogs? Apparently so! Dennis Turner, at the University of Zurich, believes they are invaluable when in comes to providing emotional and physical comfort to people, particularly those suffering clinical depression.

The benefits to owning a pet aren't just limited to emotional and psychological therapy. There are also palpable health benefits, in the way of reduced blood pressure, and improved cardiac function and body fitness. Rebecca Johnson, Professor and Director of the Center for Human Animal Interactions at the University of Missouri-Columbia, noted a significant increase in walking speed when comparing people walking with, and without dogs. And consequently, an improvement in their general fitness was noted.

Incidentally, the value of dog walking doesn't just end there. Studies have shown that walking your dog outside increases your suburb’s social capital. Dog walking gives the impression of a safe, friendly community, and a great place to live. So, it’s within the community and their council’s interest to make their suburb as ‘dog friendly’ as possible. A good argument in case you are looking to lobby against your local council anytime soon!

Feasibly, however, the sky’s the limit when it comes to the potential therapeutic benefits of pets. For instance, researchers have observed dramatic improvements in social skills in autistic children. When paired with therapy dogs, they noticed a reduction in bullying, and an improvement in making friends. There was also an improvement in cognitive learning, and tactile contact.

I guess this article is just another way of proving just how invaluable pets are to us. Hopefully it helps to encourage ‘would be’ pet owners to take that next step and welcome a four-legged friend to the family, and I hope that it helps to remind each and everyone of us to appreciate the true value and the endless benefits, which come from owning a pet.

Do you have a question for Dr Ben? Ask him here

Want more? We thought you might like this video.


Sign Out

Join the Conversation

Please note, LifeStyle cannot respond to all comments posted in our comments feed. If you have a comment or query you would like LifeStyle to respond to, please use our feedback form.