Boost Your Health by Adopting a Pet!

April 14, 2014 in Aerowood Animal Hospital

Adopting a dog or cat from the animal shelter is good for your health. Seriously. A controlled study out of Cambridge suggests you could cut your number of minor health complaints in half (for example: headaches, trouble sleeping, bad back, nerves, tiredness, feet pain, constipation, and palpitations). The study has a list of 20 common complaints. The research was published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. James Serpell, PhD recruited seventy-one adults whom he met at animal shelters to participate in his study. Forty-seven adopted dogs, 24 adopted cats, and 26 adopted nothing and had no pets. People who had other pets were excluded from the study. At entry to the study, everyone completed questionnaires. They completed same or similar questionnaires one month later, six months later, and ten months later. Dr. Serpel was able to compare the health of people who did not adopt pets to people who did.

After only one month, people who adopted a dog or a cat reported only half as many minor health complaints. After six months, the psychological health of cat and dog owners trended much better (15% to 23% improvement in psychological health scores) while the no-pet group only improved 5%. The dog-adopting group increased the frequency and duration of their recreational walks more than five-fold. Interestingly, statistical analysis (and simply comparing to the cat group) showed that the improvement in minor health complaints and psychological health could not be explained 100% by more recreational walking. The health improvements came from more than exercise.

Research Source: Serpell J. Beneficial effects of pet ownership on some aspects of human health and behaviour. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. 84: 717-719. Online at: df

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