We humans can learn a lot from our pets as role models. They give a never-ending supply of unconditional love, without expecting anything in return. They live in the moment. And they seem to appreciate the smallest of joys.
There is a multitude of scientific research that measures the physical and psychological rewards of sharing the companionship of a pet. Says Dr. Edward Creagan, an oncologist at the Mayo Clinic, “a pet is a medication without side effects that has so many benefits. I can’t always explain it myself, but for years now I’ve seen how instances of having a pet is like an effective drug.”
Below are just a few of the benefits of having a pet that have been documented in the research:
- Pet owners have lower blood pressure.
- Pet owners have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels
- Pet owners have better psychological well-being
- Companionship of pets helps children in families adjust better to the serious illness and death of a parent.
- Seniors who own dogs go to the doctor less than those who do not.
- Activities of daily living (ADL) level of seniors who did not currently own pets deteriorated more on average than that of respondents who currently owned pets.
- Pets decrease feelings of loneliness and isolation.
- Pet owners have fewer minor health problems.
- Pets are preventive and therapeutic measures against everyday stress
Source: Delta Society
While much of the medical literature supporting the health benefits pet ownership focuses on disease prevention, a number of studies have explored the benefit of animal companionship for people who live with various illnesses and disabilities. For those with CFS/FM who are often housebound more often than we would like to be, even “unwelcome” periods of rest imposed by symptoms can be enhanced when shared with a cuddly friend. Pets can be a reminder and an inspiration for us to rest more, discover unexpected sources of joy, and focus the present moment.