Pets improve one’s health
There are many benefits to owning a pet including lowering blood pressure. It also allows you to exercise in a roundabout way.
BY: Dr Samuel Joseph Cheah
Anyone who owns a pet, especially a dog, knows that there is something amazing about the way a pet fills our space, listens to us and enriches our lives. Though animals cannot communicate in the same way we do, they however ‘speak’ to us by way of gestures, grunts, groans and other distinctive sounds peculiar to them.
My wife and I own three pets now – two dogs (a Chihuahua plus a Siberian – looks more like a snow wolf) and a Persian cat. We adopted our pets when they were only two months old and realised there were some things we had to change such as my wife or I needing to be home by 6.30pm. They have also become a regular fixture in our weekends as we would regularly take them to the park. It took us a few months to become comfortable with them (probably more time than they got comfortable with us!).
Pets are very persistent at getting our attention everyday and showing their love whether we might deserve it or not. Some of our younger friends who are pet owners shared with us that they were quite contented with the pets they adopted. However, pets are never substitutes for human beings.
There are however similarities between caring for a pet and caring for a child. We know how much work and money it takes to raise a child; and it can be very rewarding or stressful when a child experiences school life. As a senior, I treasure the time I have with my pets. They do not cause me headaches or unnecessary worry (unless they get sick). My Chihuahua and Persian get along pretty well like little children, though occasionally they have their little squabbles over petty things! Most of the time my three pets do not pressure us to go outdoors though they do go for their evening walks.
We also do not have to worry about TV’s negative influence on them. Whenever one of us is unwell or feeling blue, our mood would never spoil our pets’ day. They will still desire to come near us … always. If one day they inherit our human vocal expression, I think they might just say, “Keep smiling, keep going, knowing you can count on us for sure. That’s what we are here for!” I don’t have to worry about pets’ growing-up pangs like some adolescents wanting to experiment with unsafe sex, drugs or getting involved in a gang.
Through pets have shorter lifespans than us humans, they would have given us many benefits. Researchers have found that having a domestic pet at home can decrease the chances of depression and increase better socialisation. The importance of pet companionship is that it creates a bond between the pet and its owner. Pets do listen to us without making judgments and provide physical or tactile affection when needed. Having a pet provides us with more comfort and social support, especially when we are ageing graciously with limited opportunities for social interaction.
People who have pets at home actually have their stress and anxiety levels reduced, and they can manage their lives better and smile more. I start my day as early as 4.45am and thrice a week, I go for my morning or evening walks with my dogs. It is not only good exercise for them but for me too!
Researchers have also discovered that pet owners enjoy the benefits of an enhanced immune system and lower blood pressure, all thanks to having a pet. A study was carried out by the University at Buffalo, the State University of New York, US, on highly stressed older workers who faced demanding pressures at work. Those who owned pets were found to be cheerful and had lower blood pressure than their counterparts who did not have a pet. Some other studies have also indicated that Alzheimer’s patients have fewer anxious outbursts if there is an animal in the home.
Pets have a wonderful, calming sensation. It is important that if you decide on getting a pet, you are a responsible pet owner. Don’t buy out of impulse but do your research and take the time before you decide. Know that when you do own a pet, you wouldn’t trade it for the world!
Dr Samuel Joseph Cheah, 59, is currently working as a senior psychologist dealing with special needs students and family care. He takes it day-by-day and “enjoys life without boundaries”.
(** PHOTO CREDIT: watchpuppy, konzepta, stock.xchng and sunshine cat, Ayla87, stock.xchng)