Wellness With Age: How important are our pets?

Have you ever stopped and wondered why our pets are so important to us or why so many people have companion animals? Statistics have proven just how important they truly are, in 2014 we consumers spent $58 billion on our beloved companions.

For the last fifty years, if not longer, psychologists have continually studied how pets affect us humans — and they continue to learn more about this unique human animal connection.

Many of the reasons humans have pets are obvious such as their companionship and unconditional love. Animals offer comfort and can help to lower stress and to reduce depression which in turn can lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart attacks and other health concerns.

Dog owners automatically receive the benefit of more exercise by walking their dogs daily.

Any pet, even if it is a small fish, can give purpose and meaning to a person’s life, especially for an elderly person living alone.

Unless your pet is a fish or a frog, animals are perfect for meeting the human need of touch.

Multiple research has shown how inmates who have interactions with pets develop long-term improved behaviors. For some of these inmates, it is the first time they have experienced mutual affection.

In addition, there are many other benefits of pet ownership which more people should become aware of. Pets keep us on a schedule, especially pets which need fed, watered and groomed at specific times. Having a consistent schedule keeps our pets calm and feeling secure, and helps us humans with time management.

The normal body temperature of cats and dogs range between 100 Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) and 102 degrees Fahrenheit (39 degrees Celsius). Cat and dog owners who have joint or inflammation concerns such as fibromyalgia and arthritis can experience some pain relief from petting the warm fur of their pet.

Citizens who are 65 years old and older who own a pet visit their doctor 30 percent less often than those of the same age who are not pet owners. Research is being conducted to learn if pets can help with various dementias, including Alzheimer’s.

Owning a pet automatically expands our social life in a variety of ways. While walking our dogs, we meet other dog owners. Taking any pet to the pet store or the veterinarian’s office brings us in contact with other pet owners. Then there are countless clubs for various pet owners such as African Gray parrot clubs and clubs for Standard Poodles.

Last, but definitely not least, our pets bring joy and humor to our lives with their antics and love of adventure.

Just for the fun of it, here is a partial list of the longest-living pets:

• Umbrella cockatoos, 70-80 years

• African gray parrots, 30-50 years

• Koi Fish, 40 years in Japan (15 years in other countries)

• Horses, 25-30 years

• Dogs, 8-21 years (depending on breed)

• Cats, 10-15 years

What are your thoughts on pets and health? Share with us by emailing info@wellnesswithage.com I personally answer each and every email.

Crystal Linn is a multi-published author and an award-winning poet. When not writing, or teaching workshops, she enjoys reading a good mystery, hiking, and sailing with friends and family. See crystallinn.com.