They also made fewer errors in their math when their pet was present in the room.All these findings indicated that having a dog or cat lowered the risk of heart disease, as well as lowering stress so that performance improved.
For example, one study measured blood pressure, heart rate, and behavioral distress in healthy children aged 3 to 6 at two different doctor visits for routine physicals.
At one visit, a dog (unrelated to the child) was present in the room and at the other visit the dog was absent.
Neither the length of time of having a dog or cat nor the level of attachment to the animal influenced performance abilities.
Companion animals did not seem to have an impact on psychological health but researchers suggested that a care-taking role may give older individuals a sense of responsibility and purpose that contributes to their overall well-being.
For example, walking with a dog has been found to increase social interaction, especially with strangers, compared to walking without a dog.
Among elderly people, pet ownership might also be an important source of social support that enhances well-being.In one study, elderly individuals that had a dog or cat were better able to perform certain physical activities deemed “activities of daily living,” such as the ability to climb stairs; bend, kneel, or stoop; take medication; prepare meals; and bathe and dress oneself.There were not significant differences between dog and cat owners in their abilities to perform these activities.For example, 6 and 7 year old children who lived with a bird during their first year of life were more likely to have respiratory symptoms like wheezing compared to children who did not have a bird in the home as an infant.Likewise, researchers say that the timing of when a pet is in the family is also important.Some people are more attached to their pets than others and those feelings could influence the impact of the pet on the person’s health.Other factors such as gender and marital status may play a role.People with a dog or cat had lower resting heart rates and blood pressure measures at the beginning of the experiment than non-pet owners.People with a dog or cat were also less likely to have spikes in heart rates and blood pressure while performing the math task, and their heart rates and blood pressure returned to normal more quickly.Animals play an important role in many people’s lives.In addition to seeing-eye dogs and dogs that can be trained to detect seizures, animals can also be used in occupational therapy, speech therapy, or physical rehabilitation to help patients recover.