Houston PetTalk is participating in the 2nd Annual Pet Net event (check out the other bloggers too), a group of websites publishing on a particular topic today! The topic is the Human Animal Bond. The importance of the human-animal bond has been documented throughout history and across cultures. It goes beyond companionship. It refers to the strong positive interaction that exists between humans and animals, in other words, the special bond that actually enhances human quality of life.

The positive impact of the human-animal bond is real – and is backed by scientific data, case studies and hard research that validate the therapeutic effects of human-animal relationships. These benefits can be emotional, psychological, physical, and spiritual.

Seniors, for example, who own dogs, go to the doctor less than those who do not. In a study of 100 Medicare patients, even the most highly stressed dog owners had 21% fewer physician contacts than non-dog owners. (Siegel, 1990)

Companionship of pets (particularly dogs) helps children in families adjust better to the serious illness and death of a parent. (Raveis, 1993)

Here is a list of Human-Animal bond Facts compiled by the Delta society.

•Seniors who own pets coped better with stress life events without entering the healthcare system. (Raina, 1998)
•Pet owners have lower blood pressure. (Friedman, 1983, Anderson 1992)
•Pet owners have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels than non-owners. (Anderson, 1992)
•ACE inhibitors lower resting blood pressure but they do not diminish reactivity to mental stress. Pet ownership can lessen cardiovascular reactivity to psychological stress among hypertensive patients treated with a daily dose of Lisinopril. (Allen, 1999)
•Pet owners feel less afraid of being a victim of crime when walking with a dog or sharing a residence with a dog. (Serpel, 1990)
•Pet owners have fewer minor health problems. (Friedmann, 1990, Serpel, 1990)
•Pet owners have better psychological well-being. (Serpel, 1990)
•Contact with pets develops nurturing behavior in children who may grow to be more nurturing adults. (Melson, 1990)
•Medication costs dropped from an average of $3.80 per patient per day to just $1.18 per patient per day in new nursing home facilities in New York, Missouri and Texas having animals and plants as an integral part of the environment. (Montague, 1995)
•Pet owners have higher one-year survival rates following coronary heart disease. (Friedman, 1980, 1995)
•Pets fulfill many of the same support functions as humans for adults and children. (Melson, 1998)
•Pets in nursing homes increase social and verbal interactions. (Fick, 1992)
•Having a pet may decrease heart attack mortality by 3%. This translates into 30,000 lives saved annually. (Friedman, 1980)
•Pet owners have better physical health due to exercise with their pets. (Serpel, 1990)
•Dogs are preventative and therapeutic measures against everyday stress. (Allen, 1991, 1996)
•Pets decrease feelings of loneliness and isolation. (Kidd, 1994)

I have my own personal top ten list of reasons people should have pets.  Some are scientifically proven and others are anecdotal.

My top 10 reasons people should have pets.

Number 10… Meddling Mother-in Law

It’s been shown that pet owners have lower blood pressure and that pet ownership can lessen cardiovascular reactivity to psychological stress.

Number 9…  32” waist

People who own pets generally get more exercise.  If you are having trouble loosing that last 5 lbs.; walk your dog more.

Number 8…   Do I look fat in this dress?

Studies show that pets don’t care what you look like in that dress.

Number 7…  Reading is fundamental

Children who are too shy to read in front of their teachers or parents for fear of making a mistake will read to a dog.

Number 6…  Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts and Egg Plant

Children can slip food to the dog under the table.  The dog gets roughage and they still get dessert.

Number 5…  Home alone and Home alone 2

A Pet will decrease feelings of loneliness and isolation.  Two pets can make things down right entertaining.

Number 4…  Aaah Aaah Aaah Choo

Children exposed to pets during their first year of life have a lower frequency of allergic rhinitis and asthma

Number 3…   Blind luck

Service dogs provide an invaluable service to their owners.

Number 2…   The Cosby Show

70% of families surveyed reported an increase in family happiness and fun after getting a pet.  30% refused the survey as they were busy picking up turds from the living room carpet.

And the Number ONE reason people should have pets is:

To Pull the Wool Over Their Eyes.

With sweaters in the winter, costume contests in the fall and spring and birthday suits in the summer, pets are perfect participants for playing dress up. Well…at least for 3 our of 4 seasons.

Written by Dr. Mark Silberman (Southwest Animal Clinic, 4570 Bissonnet. 713.688.4466) for Houston PetTalk Magazine