The Health Benefits of Owning a Pet

Table of Content

Dictionary defines the word “PET” as “any domesticated or tamed animal that is kept as a companion and cared for affectionately.” Any animal which can live a healthy life in captivity can be raised as a pet. Domestication of pets is very old. In early days it was very common to keep animals for work for ploughing and transportation. The emergence needs of animals as pet started approximately 32000 years ago as per historians and researchers.

Historians are not sure about the keeping of animals as pets however sheep and goats were first domesticated roughly 11,000 years ago, while cats became pets around 7000 B.C. with the advent of agriculture. researchers suggest that dogs might have been domesticated as far back as 32,000 years ago. One of the first animals domesticated by humans was about 10,000 years ago. Perhaps the initial steps toward domestication were taken largely through the widespread human practice of making pets of captured young wild animals. The history of pets intertwines with the process of animal domestication, and it is likely that the dog, was the first domesticated species and also the first pet.

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According to ancient Egyptian law, taking the life of a greyhound warranted the same punishment as killing a man. As early as 3500 B.C. Egyptians were domesticating wildcats from Africa. They considered cats to be demigods and the property of the divine Pharaoh. There is evidence that the ancient Romans kept dogs, birds, cats and horses. The cats and horses may have been considered working animals and not pets. The cats were treasured as vermin controllers. Buddhist monks in China began to raise goldfish in ponds in the seventh century. By the fourteenth century, the Chinese were keeping them in bowls.

The human-animal bond exists between all species. People are attracted to all kinds of animals. Domesticated animals are subservient to humans and are often treated like children, while wild animals are independent and demand respect. This causes people to admire them. Evolutionary biologist Jared Diamond says animal species must meet six criteria in order to be considered for domestication:

  • They should have a flexible diet, making them less expensive to own
  • A fast maturity rate compared to the human life
  • Ability to breed in captivity
  • A pleasant disposition (not aggressive)
  • Does not attempt to flee when startled

Social creatures that recognize a hierarchy of dominance (so they will accept their owner as the leader of the pack).

Pets can have an effect on your health. On the positive side, caring for a pet has many health benefits, both psychologically and physically. Pet therapy is a guided interaction between a person and a trained animal. It also involves the animal’s handler. The purpose of pet therapy is to help someone recover from or cope with a health problem or mental disorder. Dogs and cats are most commonly used in pet therapy.

Pet therapy is a broad term that includes animal-assisted therapy and other animal-assisted activities. Animal-assisted therapy is a growing field that uses dogs or other animals to help people recover from or better cope with health problems, such as heart disease, cancer and mental health disorders. The therapeutic use of pets has usually involved institutional visitation. Noting Freud’s comments on the discovery of the profound connection between himself and his dogs, and recent research on the regulatory functioning sustained by a libidinal pair‐bond, this paper reports that the therapeutic uses of the clinician’s companion animal, a Labrador retriever, in a psychoanalytically oriented private practice. Patients were sitting up and seen once or twice a week. I argue that the containment of the treatment setting, attachment theory and a number of Winnicott’s concepts – the good enough mother, the True and False Self, and the development of concern – are pertinent to an understanding of this approach to treatment, and that the right companion animal may contribute to the emergence of a True Self. The companion animal has the qualities of ‘devotion’, offers expressions of love and acceptance, tactile opportunity and responsiveness. I make a distinction between a ‘corrective object relationship’ and a ‘corrective emotional experience’ and take into account analytic debates about the ‘corrective emotional experience’. Through clinical vignettes I demonstrate the value of a trained companion animal as a psychotherapeutic addition in a private practice. ( The therapeutic therapy of pets )

The Therapeutic Value of Pets Faith T. Fitzgerald study published in Western Journal of Medicine suggests that while domestic pets are capable of transmitting disease and inflicting injury, they may also be of benefit to human health. Studies suggest that companion animals, in addition to their well-known role as helpers to the handicapped, may alleviate depression, solace the lonely, facilitate psycho-therapy, socialize criminals, lower blood pressure, increase survivorship from myocardial infarction and ease the social pain of aging in our society. ( Fitzgerald )

Strong intuition and numerous anecdotes suggest that the human relationship with pets is beneficial to both, but actual scientific data are sparse. It takes a lot of preparation to introduce companion animals as therapeutic aids in geriatrics, psychotherapy and the treatment of chronically ill and handicapped children and adults. Most studies so far have been reported in veterinary, nursing and sociological literature, with the medical literature concentrating preponderantly on the negative aspects of domestic animals. The human-companion animal bond, as it is now called, is an ancient one. Humans and dogs, especially, have an old relationship, of perhaps 10,000 to 15,000 years’.

The Advantages of Pets: Helper animals include hunting dogs, herders, guard dogs and the use of dogs in police work. In the medical context, dogs have proved invaluable as guide dogs for the blind. Less familiar to most physicians is the program of hearing dogs for the deaf (dogs trained to alert their deaf owners to doorbells, sirens, shouts and so forth), medic-alert dogs (trained to pull alarms for physically handicapped owners should they fall) and companion monkeys whose nimble fingers manipulate objects for quadriparetic patients. Horses are used in ‘hippotherapy’ for crippled children, who, though they cannot walk, may gain self-esteem through being ‘tall in the saddle. Psychiatrists suggest that persons in reactive depressions may have their gloom lifted in the presence of animals. Other studies suggest that those who live with pets have higher morale and general better overall health status than those without pets. It may simply be that pet owners tend to be richer than non-pet owners, as people in the lower socioeconomic classes tend to have fewer pets. Domestic animals may be social lubricants for the lonely, increasing the number of social contacts and conversations a person has, especially during dog-walking. In addition, it is clear that the bonds between certain people and their pets are not unlike those between parents and children. Not yet well studied but intimated in the companion-animal literature is the idea that the loss of a beloved pet may create an owner response similar to that experienced with the death of a human loved one-that is, increased mortality or morbidity or even suicide in the distressed. While the death of a child or spouse mobilizes family, neighbors and co-workers into a supporting web for the distressed, the response to an animal’s death might be no more than is ‘It was only a cat. Why don’t you just get another one?’ Depression and emotional instability, while they may be worsened by the death of an animal, may also be alleviated by animal contact. Animals were introduced 200 years ago into York Retreat, an institute for the mentally disturbed in England. By 1970, in one survey, some 48% of institutions for the mentally disturbed used animals in some capacity. Individual, psychotherapists describe using dogs as ‘co-therapists’ in their treatment of autistic children, who may be willing to speak to a dog more readily than to a physician.’ Severely disturbed people may, however, abuse animals, and this therapeutic association must be closely monitored. The use of companion animals in the penal system is notable, and an interesting paradox occurs: the animals appear to domesticate the men. The most famous episode, perhaps, of the rehabilitative capacity of pets was the well-told story of Robert Stroud, the ‘Birdman of Alcatraz,’ whose fascination with birds led to him becoming a world-renowned ornithologist who ultimately obtained release. Birds and cats were introduced into San Quentin prison but were removed in 1976.

The disadvantages of Pets: Pets cost a lot of money, with pet-care products a multibillion-dollar industry. Old people, in particular, may be ill able to afford companion animals, whose food bill may be 80 cents or more a day, let alone veterinary medical expenses, licensure, grooming, toys etc. In addition to their maintenance cost, animals may be inconvenient and even destructive, causing hairy rugs, shredded upholstery, chewed shoes and the inevitable ‘accidents’ of house-bound animals. Moreover, though domesticated, companion animals retain the power to injure people, as in cat scratches and dog bites. These account for millions of incidents per year; and it is estimated that every year 2 % of all children between 5 and 9 years old suffer a dog bite. Dog attacks still occasionally kill human beings, though these are rare. In addition, an untold number of people have atopic responses to their domestic pets. These hazards, however, do not deter pet owners. Remarkably, in one study 73 % of families with pets to whom a member of the family was allergic refused to get rid of the animal. Moreover, allergists who own pets were far less adamant in advising pet removal from their atopic patients than were non-pet-owning allergists.

Conclusion of study suggests that in spite of known risks, human beings and companion animals have formed a remarkable bond over the centuries. More scientific work is needed to study the therapeutic ratio of pet ownership, but some current data suggest that dependent, warm, loving and uncritical beings may be of significant benefit to a wide range of people, with special meaning to those-the elderly, the handicapped and the mentally and emotionally disturbed-whom other human beings may abjure.

Psychologists at Miami University and Saint Louis University conducted three experiments to examine the potential benefits of pet ownership among what they called everyday people. The results of the current study were reported in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, published online by APA.

“We observed evidence that pet owners fared better, both in terms of well-being outcomes and individual differences, than non-owners on several dimensions,” said lead researcher Allen R. McConnell, PhD, of Miami University in Ohio. “Specifically, pet owners had greater self-esteem, were more physically fit, tended to be less lonely, were more conscientious, were more extraverted, tended to be less fearful and tended to be less preoccupied than non-owners.” Until now, most research into the benefits of pets has been correlational, meaning it looked at the relationship between two variables but didn’t show that one caused the other. For example, prior research showed that elderly Medicare patients with pets had fewer doctor visits than similar patients without pets, or that HIV-positive men with pets were less depressed than those without.

In this study, 217 people (79 percent women, mean age 31, mean annual family income $77,000) answered surveys aimed at determining whether pet owners in the group differed from people who didn’t have pets in the areas of well-being, personality type and attachment style. Several differences between the groups emerged, and in all cases, pet owners were happier, healthier and better adjusted than were non-owners.

A second experiment, involving 56 dog owners (91 percent of whom were women, with a mean age of 42 and average annual family income of $65,000), examined whether pet owners benefit more when their pet is perceived to fulfill their social needs better. This study found greater well-being among owners whose dogs increased their feelings of belonging, self-esteem and meaningful existence. The last study, comprising 97 undergraduates with an average age of 19, found that pets can make people feel better after experiencing rejection. Subjects were asked to write about a time when they felt excluded. According to The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C.,

Findings suggest that the social support a pet provides can make a person feel more relaxed and decrease stress. Social support from friends and family can have similar benefits, but interpersonal relationships often cause stress as well, whereas pets may be less likely to cause stress. The social support provided by a pet might also encourage more social interactions with people, reducing feelings of isolation or loneliness. For example, walking with a dog has been found to increase social interaction, especially with strangers, compared to walking without a dog. When a child has no brothers or sisters, research shows that pets help children develop greater empathy, higher self-esteem, and increased participation in social and physical activities. Among elderly people, pet ownership might also be an important source of social support that enhances well-being. In one study, elderly individuals that had a dog or cat were better able to perform certain physical activities deemed “activities of daily living,” such as the ability to climb stairs; bend, kneel, or stoop; take medication; prepare meals; and bathe and dress oneself. The research findings are encouraging, so it makes sense to conduct more studies on how human-animal interaction influences our health. We don’t yet know precisely what types of animals influence what types of health issues (physical, mental, and social well-being) and what characteristics about human-animal interaction are most important. People who have pets know that there are many benefits to having a companion animal, but we do not yet know under what circumstances those benefits are most likely. If research shows specific health benefits under specific circumstances, that information can be used to change policies in ways that benefit even more adults and children, by influencing rules and regulations for schools, health or assisted living facilities, residential treatment centers, and other places where people’s exposure to animals is sometimes discouraged but could potentially be encouraged.

So, it is concluded that all researches unanimously suggest keep animals as pets which brings good effect to human health however sometimes it reflects bad signs which varies human to human. There is also a need to become specific about the effects which are injurious to human health related with animals.

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The Health Benefits of Owning a Pet. (2022, Feb 09). Retrieved from

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