A Pet Can Help You to Live Longer
Animals have played a significant role in human customs, legends, and religions throughout history. "Primitive people found that human- animal relationships were important to their very survival, and petkeeping was common in hunter-gatherer societies" (Anderson et al., 1987). It is impossible to determine when the use of animals was used specifically to promote physical and psychological health. However, the use of horseback riding for people with serious disabilities has been reported for centuries. Records show that at the York Retreat, in England 1792, in an attempt to reduce the use of harsh drugs and restraints animals were incorporated into the treatment for mental patients. In 1919 at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, D.C., a letter to Superintendent Dr. W.A. White from Secretary of the Interior F.K. Lane suggested the use of dogs as companions for the psychiatric hospital's residents. From 1944 to 1945 at an Army Air Corps Convalescent Hospital at Pawling, New York was the earliest known extensive use of companion animals. Farm animals were used with patients that were recovering from war experiences. After the war, they began to use animals in outpatient psychotherapy. During the 1970's, case studies were reported of animals facilitating therapy with children and senior citizens. In our own time the urban population's often unsatisfied need for intimacy, and contact with nature may reflect the great increase in pet ownership.
According to the article Live Longer- Own a Pet, no author, stated "the US Department of Health concluded that pets increased the survival rate of heart attack victims. The study revealed that 28% of heart patients with pets survived serious heart attacks, compared to only 6% of heart patients without pets." Medical studies on the human-animal bond reveal that pet owners are more likely to have reduced stress levels, cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
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References: Anderson, R., Beck, A., Kaufmann, P., Ory, M., Rowan, A., Suomi, S., et al. (1987, September).
The health benefits of pets. National institutes of health OMAR workshop. Retreived
Fox, C. H. (2005, March) Life balance: Pet peeved [Electronic version]. Experience life
magazine, 7(2). Retrieved November 26, 2006, from http://lifetimefitness.com/magazine.
Hines, R. (2006, March 5). Disease people catch from their pets zoonotic illnesses of dogs cats
and other pets. Consult with Dr. Hines. Retrieved November 26, 2006, from
Pet Owners – Human- Animal Bond (n.d.) The Ontario veterinary medical association.
Retreived November 26, 2006, from http://www.ovma.org/pets/human_animalbond.shtml.
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