Companion Pets Revealed

There are several study synopsis' on the NCHR website that all allude to my theory that companion animals have a positive effect on their owners. One study that I found particularly interesting was where researchers sought to measure the changes in heart rate and blood pressure among people who had a dog or cat with them when put under a stressful situation. The owners were asked to perform a timed math test with their pets in the room, which was measured against other individuals doing the same test without their pets present. The findings showed that those with a dog or cat had lower resting heart rates and blood pressure measures at the start of the test than the other group. Furthermore, when pets were present, the owners were less likely to have peaks in heart rates and blood pressure while performing the test: their heart rates and blood pressure returned to normal faster too.

And it isn't only adults who find dogs and cats calming: a similar children's study, also carried out by NCHR, suggests kids' exposure to companion animals may also ease anxieties. Doctors carried out a study where they measured blood pressure, heart rate, and behavioral distress in healthy children aged 3 to 6 at two different routine checkups. At one of the visits, the doctors would ensure a dog was present in the room (whom the child had never met before), whilst at the other examination there was no animal present at all. The results showed that when a pet was present, the children had lower blood pressure measures, lower heart rates, and less behavioral distress.

Both of these studies support my own theory that pets provide their owners with social support, and help to relax them. The social support provided by a pet can really change a person's life, especially someone who is elderly and alone. Once again, NCHR felt similarly and have a study to prove so. Their findings suggest that elderly people (with either a dog or cat pet) are able to perform certain physical activities well; tasks we usually take for granted, such as, climbing stairs, bending, bathing and dressing. Whilst the study does not claim pets have a psychological effect, I believe that they can provide older people with a sense of responsibility, and that the very act of caretaking provides purpose - and purpose can keep a person active and healthy.