If you love animals you probably already know that just being around a dog or cat can make you feel better. But there's a substantial body of research now that shows people who have pets tend to be healthier, both in body and mind, than people who are pet-less. Owning a Pug can actually improve your emotional and physical well-being.
Owning a Pug can lead to some very real tangible health benefits. Exercising your Pug means exercise for you, which is good for your body and heart. People with dogs tend to have more friends. Maybe it's those cute Pug faces, but people are more likely to approach dog owners and strike up a conversation. Dog owners are almost by definition more sociable than people who don't have pets. All of these things also help people fight loneliness and depression.
But that's only the tip of the iceberg. Pet owners have lower blood pressure. It has long been known that the act of stroking a pet can reduce blood pressure. A study at the State University of New York at Buffalo found that the beneficial effects continue even when the pet is not present. The study, which looked at a group of stockbrokers with hypertension, concluded that just owning a pet can help lower blood pressure -- and keep it lower, even in stressful settings.
Pet owners also have lower blood cholesterol levels. A study of more than 5,400 people conducted by Australia's Baker Medical Research Institute found that pet owners had not only lower blood pressure, but also lower levels of blood cholesterol and triglycerides in comparison to the non-pet owners, reducing the risk of heart disease.
Pet owners have a higher survival rate after serious illness. Two studies have found that heart attack patients who owned pets were significantly more likely to be alive a year after they were discharged from the hospital than those who didn't. What's more, a study conducted at City Hospital in New York found that the presence of a pet affected survival rate even more than having a spouse or friends. Patients in hospitals or nursing homes who have regular visits from their pets have proven to be more receptive to treatment. The need to care for their pet gives them reason to recover and the will to live.
Pet owners even have fewer doctors' visits. Studies conducted by Cambridge University in England and at the University of California at Los Angeles have found that pet ownership corresponds to overall improved health and fewer medical care visits. A study of Medicare patients also found that seniors who own dogs go to the doctor less than those who do not. Even the most highly-stressed older dog owners in the study had 21 % fewer physicians' visits than non-dog owners. And an Australian study of 6,000 households found that dog and cat owners required less medication for blood pressure, cholesterol, sleeping difficulties or heart problems.
Pug owners may also find that caring for their dog plays a role in their emotional health. Dogs offer unconditional love and attention; they make us laugh, help us relax and divert us from day-to-day concerns. Research has documented the psychological benefits of pet ownership:
Pet ownership reduces loneliness. People who live alone find that having pets reduces feelings of loneliness. According to researchers, this occurs because the pet provides companionship, but also because the pet becomes a topic for conservation with other people, increasing social interactions. Pet therapy programs at nursing homes are credited with enabling patients to reach out beyond their own pain and isolation and start caring about the world around them again.
Pet ownership fights depression. A study of AIDS patients conducted by UCLA in 1999 found that pets provide a level of companionship that helped the patients cope with the stress of their illness. The study looked at more than 1,800 patients and found that those who did not have a pet were more than twice as likely to report symptoms of depression. And scientists in South Africa have conducted research that shows that a pet can serve as an antidepressant, increasing the release of endorphins and other hormones tied to pleasure.
Pet ownership helps us cope with stress. A study of breast cancer patients conducted at the University of Warwick in England found that pets can provide valuable support for women coping with cancer. Researchers found that in addition to the comfort of touch, pets provided a relationship that, unlike many human relationships, was unaffected by the presence of a serious illness.
Pet ownership aids childhood development. Studies have linked family ownership of a pet with high self-esteem in young children and greater cognitive development. In addition, children with pets at home score significantly higher on empathy and pro-social scales than non-pet owners. Pets help us understand how other humans feel.
Pet ownership enhances family life. Psychological studies have found that most pet owners view their pets as enhancing the quality of family life by minimizing tension between family members and by enhancing their owners' compassion for living things. One survey of U.S. families found that pets were of great importance during personal or family illness, death of friends and family members or a family crisis.
All of the evidence points to the fact that owning a Pug can provide many health benefits to you, physically, mentally and emotionally. Their unconditional love can help you through tough times, bring families closer together, and offers unexpected health benefits to those lucky enough to share their lives with these special little dogs.
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