The beneficial dogma of owning a pet

The beneficial dogma of owning a pet

Sophie Carrillo , Co-Features Editor

The well-known saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away- ” holds true in many cases. Now, the “apple” can be replaced with something else — pets. Over the past 25 years, research has shown countless health benefits to owning a pet.

Pets for the youth

Researcher James E. Gern, a pediatrician at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, stated that some studies suggested that growing up in a home with pets can lead  to a lower risk of allergies and asthma in the future. According to Web MD, living with a pet can decrease the likelihood of developing a related allergy by 33 percent.

Prior to these studies, some families thought owning a pet in the early years of a childs life resulted in a higher risk of developing an allergy towards the animal. Dogs, which are generally dirty animals, expose babies to dirt and allergens so  the owners having a stronger immune system as they grow up. Gern’s study proved this to be true.

Pets for the aged

According to Web MD, having a pet in the household of an Alzheimer’s patient has proven to help reduce the amount of anxious outbursts. Researchers agree that these patients feel less burdened if they live with a pet. Walking a dog or caring for a pet, in general, can be exceedingly beneficial for the health of an elder person- especially if able to care for the pet themselves. Tending to a pet’s needs can provide exercise and companionship for an elder.

“My grandpa survived cancer and then got three dogs,” junior Niah Greenwald said. “His dogs provide him with exercise and happiness everyday.”

On top of being beneficial for Alzheimer’s disease, pets can also impact heart attack patients. Heart attack patients who have pets survive longer than those heart attack patients without pets (Web MD). Males who own pets show less signs of heart disease and lower cholesterol levels than other males.

Mood

Pets have been known for affecting the mood of people around them.

My dog always finds ways to cheer me up,” sophomore Sebastian Fernandez said.  “He seems to know how I am feeling before I do.”

AIDs patients are far less likely to suffer from depression if they own a pet. A study involving stockbrokers revealed that the people with high blood pressure who adopted a dog or cat then had lower blood pressure readings during stressful situations than those who did not own a pet. People in a state of stress release chemicals such as cortisol and norepinephrine that negatively affect the immune system. Studies have shown a link between these chemicals and plaque buildup in arteries, a strong indicator of potential heart disease. Thus, the simple act of owning a pet can not only affect someone short term, but it can also benefit them in the long run (Web MD).

Some people may take drugs such as cocaine and and heroine to raise serotonin and dopamine levels, the “pleasure” hormones. Little do they know, this can be done in a natural and healthier way– the act of playing with a dog can increase levels of serotonin and dopamine. The calming and pleasurable effects of these hormones can affect one’s mood for the better.

“After a long day at school I always look forward to going home and seeing my dog,” junior Natalie Silver said. “Seeing how happy they get when you get home is enough to make you smile.”