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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.There were not significant differences between dog and cat owners in their abilities to perform these activities.
Further research is needed on how pets influence child development and specific health outcomes.
Findings suggest that the social support a pet provides can make a person feel more relaxed and decrease stress.
A large German study collected pet information (dog, cat, horse, fish, bird or other pet ownership) from over 9,000 people at two different times (19).
The survey included a number of health, economic, and labor issues, so that respondents would not realize the researchers’ interest in a link between pets and health.
Aside from these designated therapeutic roles, animals are also valued as companions, which can certainly affect the quality of our lives. The better we understand the human-animal bond, the more we can use it to improve people’s lives.
This article summarizes what is known and not known about how animals help improve the health and well-being of people, and what the implications might be for helping people who don’t have pets of their own.
Over 71 million American households (62%) have a pet, Some research studies have found that people who have a pet have healthier hearts, stay home sick less often, make fewer visits to the doctor, get more exercise, and are less depressed.
Pets may also have a significant impact on allergies, asthma, social support, and social interactions with other people.
For example, 6 and 7 year old children who lived with a bird during their first year of life were more likely to have respiratory symptoms like wheezing compared to children who did not have a bird in the home as an infant.
Likewise, researchers say that the timing of when a pet is in the family is also important.