Newscasters recently announced that according to a new study published by the American Veterinary Medical Association, pet ownership declined from 2006 to 2011. It is speculated the 2.4% decline in pet ownership was due to the economic hardships we are facing today. What a sad statistic to hear simply because we gain so much more in our lives from pet ownership. ABC News has said more and more institutions are allowing pet visits to patients, especially those hospitalized for a while. Such programs exist in hospitals in Texas, Iowa, and Delaware. Although we might think pet visitation could cause harm to their owners while they are in the hospital, there is a lack of infections or other adverse results from the visits.

As reported in Psychogeriatrics (2011; 11:125 -129), people who have pets write improving their perceived quality of life. What better time to add quality of life than when hospitalized or under financial duress?

When our economy is suffering, and jobs are hard to find, it’s easy to forget how beneficial our long-time pet friends provide unconditional love and companionship. Even during the aftermath of natural disasters, relief workers have found that therapy dogs provide stress relief for children and adults alike – providing them with seeming normality amid chaos. They offer a sense of hope and comfort, which is sometimes difficult to accept from another person during times of stress and hardship.

We have long recognized the need to exercise to maintain good emotional, mental, and physical health. The benefits from performing light exercise by those suffering from depression have been documented over and over. We often find it challenging to find a “walking buddy,” somebody who is always willing and ready to get out of the house and exercise. They love to get out of the house, go for a quick jog, or stroll alongside you as you walk your neighborhood. Even cats have been known to track their owners as they wander outside, although they might be less tolerant of walking on a leash.

Pet ownership may not be an option for everybody, but that should not limit their ability to interact with pets in need. Humane Societies, pet shelters, and equine centers always look for volunteers who can spend a few minutes with their residents. This is a great time to get out and visit dog parks in your neighborhood, even if you don’t own a dog. You can benefit from pet interactions even if you don’t own the pet.

Hopefully, those who are in the greatest need can share their lives with a pet.

The chances are that you have your pet for companionship reasons or simply because you like animals and having them in your home brings you happiness. It is not uncommon for people to seek companionship in animals, and more people do so than you would probably think.

Just as many people as there are out there who have dogs for safety and security reasons, there are people who have them simply for love and companionship. For those out there that fall into this latter category, you will be happy to know that pets have been scientifically proven to help add to the quality and longevity of a person’s life.

More Homes Have Pets Than Not

According to the most recent National Pet Owners Survey, more than sixty percent of American households have some pet in the home. Approximately 44 million of these households have a dog as a pet, so needless to say; our canine friends play a huge role in our everyday life. Even if you don’t have a dog yourself, then chances are that someone in your family, neighborhood, or circle of friends has a dog. It is safe to say that most people contact some dog on at least a weekly basis.

After dogs, cats are the second most popular pet in the American household. They run close to the canine, appearing in about 38 million American homes as the primary pet. People spent more than 16 billion dollars last year alone on their pets between veterinary care, food, supplies, and grooming and boarding. They play a massive role in our society– more so than most people ever thought possible.

Pet Parentage Has Its Benefits, Too

Research has shown that households with a pet in their home and regard them as valued family members have a lower frequency of doctor visits due to illness, a lower risk of suffering from heart disease or stroke, and significantly lower blood pressure. According to a Medicare survey, senior citizens with pets experience fewer serious health problems that cause them to seek medical assistance.

As if we didn’t know it already, all of this scientific research just goes to show that while many people hesitate to take in or adopt a pet due to the attention and care, they require it seems that animals more than giving back in the unconditional love and medical advantages that they provide us in return.

Of course, having a pet is about more than letting an animal live in your home. They require care, attention, primary medical care, and items to help enrich their lives and existence. You have to be willing to give them love and attention, and taking a vacation will never be quite the same with a pet at home, either.

Without even trying, animals bring a great deal of joy into our lives, so if your health and the happiness of a lucky dog are worth it to you, look into adopting a pet. You may find that you enrich one another’s lives in more ways than you ever thought possible.

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