Health Benefits of Owning a Pet

2509 words (10 pages) Essay

8th Feb 2020 Health And Social Care Reference this

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Dictionary defines the word “PET” as “any domesticated or tamed animal that is kept as a companion and cared for affectionately.” Any animal which can live a healthy life in captivity can be raised as a pet.  Domestication of pets is very old.   In early days it was very common to keep animals for work ploughing and transportation. The emergence needs of animals as pet started approximately 32000 years ago as per historians and researchers.  (dictionary.com)

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Animals like sheep and goats were kept as pets which were domesticated roughly around 11,000 years.  History also shows that cats were pets around 7000 B.C.  Dogs were also domesticated as far back as 32,000 years ago and one of the first animals to be domesticated by humans about 10,000 years ago.  The steps taken largely by humans was to capture young wild animals and keeping them as pets.   History shows us that the dog was most likely the first to get domesticated and also the first pet.  (Yirka, 2013) (thepetwiki)

In ancient Egyptian law, it was known that taking the life of a greyhound that the punishment was the same as killing a human.  Wildcats from Africa were domesticated by Egyptians and considered them gods and properties of the Pharaoh.  Evidence shows that the Romans kept dogs, birds, cats and horses.  Most likely the horses were not pet’s but working animals.  Cats were used to control rodents and wild animals that were harmful to crops.  In China, the Buddhist began to raise goldfish and by the fourteenth century fishes were being kept in bowls. 

We as humans have an existing bond with all species we are attracted to animals.  Once animals are domesticated, they become subservient to their owners.  We often treat our pets like our own children.  People are amazed and admire wild animals on how they are independent and survivalist out in the wild.  Jared Diamond biologist states that in order for an animal to be domesticated they should meet six criteria.  A flexible diet, fast maturity rate compared to human life, able to breed in captivity, not aggressive, not scared or attempt to get away when scared.  Social creatures know their chain of command of dominance they will do as their owner states because they accept them as leaders. 

Pets are known to have good effects on your health.  Some of those health benefits of owning pets are psychological and physical.  It is known that pet therapy helps people recover from or deal with health problems or mental disorders.  In pet therapy dogs and cats are commonly used to treat people two of the most common pet therapy are called animal assisted therapy and animal assisted activities.  The growing field of animal assisted therapy uses dogs or other animals to help treat health problems like heart disease, cancer and mental health disorders.  Pets are commonly used in therapeutic setting usually in institutional settings.  Freuds research showed that he had a lifelong bond and the therapeutic use of companion animals.  He used his Labrador retriever in his psychoanalytical private practice.  All patients were seen twice a week in a sitting position during their visit.  The right companion animal may be good for the development of people.  Animals have great qualities of fidelity they offer love, acceptance and are responsive.  The research made a very specific distinction between “corrective object relationships and corrective emotional experience”.  Throughout this clinical scene you can see the value of having trained animal companions in a private practice. (Sacks, A. 2008)

In a study published in the Western Journal of Medicine it states that domestic pets are able to transfer certain diseases and may cause injuries, but these pets can also be beneficial to their health.  In many studies it is suggested that companion animals play a role as helpers to many that are handicapped.  They can alleviate depression, loneliness and help with psycho-therapy, associate criminals, blood pressure, ease social pain in society.  (Fitzgerald, F.T. (1986)

There is a strong feeling that suggest that human relationships with pets is great for both.  To introduce companion animals takes a lot of groundwork as therapeutic aids, psychotherapy.  Medical literature is not focusing on the positive things that have been reported by veterinary, nursing and sociological literature.  They are only focusing on the negative side of domestic animals.  The animal and human bond has been around since ancient times more than 10,000 to 15,000 years.  (Cherniack&Cherniack, 2014)

Having pets has its advantages you can have helper animals like the use of K-9 dogs for police work.  Dogs have established that they are valuable for the blind.  There are dogs out there that are trained for the deaf, these dogs are trained to alert their owners to doorbells and sirens for example.  These dogs can also pull alarms for physically handicapped owners if they fall or need assistance during an emergency.  Companion monkeys are trained to use their fingers to grab objects for quadriparetic patients.   Horses are used in hippotherapy for children who cannot walk this helps them gain self-esteem by being able to sit up tall in the saddle.  Psychiatrists have said people that are going through depression may have their blues lifted by being around animals.  People who live with pets have shown higher morale and better health.  People in lower socioeconomic class usually don’t have pets compared to the wealthier that have multiple pets.  Having animals may alleviate loneliness by developing the number of social connects and conversations a person has especially during walks with their dog.  The relationship and connection between certain people have with their pets are similar to parents and children’s relationships. 

Losing a pet may cause the owner to responsed the same way as they would if they have experienced the death of a human loved one.  This can sometimes increase suide in the distressed.  The death of a loved one like a child or spouse will bring family, neighbors and co-workers together during that difficult time.  The response to an animal’s death might sometimes be “It was only a dog.” “Go get another pet”.  The death of a pet can cause depression, emotional instability but it can be alleviated by another animal and contact with that pet.  York Retreat and Mental Institution introduced pets 200 years ago in England.  In a survey conducted in 1970 it showed that 48% of mental institutions used animals.  Psychotherapists have used dogs in their treatment of Autistic children because the children were willing to speak to a dog rather than the physician.  There is a possibility that the mentally ill may cause harm to the animals used in their therapy and should be monitored at all times closely.  Animal companions have been used in jails and it has helped just look at the story of Robert Stroud known as the “Birdman of Alcatraz”.  He was fascinated by birds and he became a world-renowned ornithologist.  San Quentin Prison introduced cats in their prison but were removed in 1976.  (Cherniack&Cherniack, 2014)

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Owning pets cost lots of money, the pet care industry is a multibillion-dollar industry.  Owning pets especially for older people might be really hard to afford.  Medical expenses, food bill, licensure, grooming, toys etc. can become a lot to handle for someone.  Animals can cause destruction within your home by shredded upholstery, chewed shoes and accidents.  Even though dogs and cats are domesticated they can still cause injury to people like cat scratches and dog bites.  It has been reported that 2% of children between the ages 5 & 9 years old suffer a dog bite every year.  Even though some people suffer from allergies it doesn’t stop them from owning pets.  In a study it should that 73% of pet owners who had someone who had allergies they would not get rid of their animal.  Medical allergists would not advise on pet removal to their patients with allergies either.. (Cherniack&Cherniack, 2014)

There were three experiments conducted by Psychologist at Miami University and Saint Louis University to evaluate the benefits of owning pets.  This study was published and reported by Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.  The study showed that pet owners progressed better in their well being and that the results were different compared to non-owners in many ways.  Pet owners in the study showed better self-esteem, physically fit, less lonely more extraverted and less preoccupied than non-pet owners.  In other research study done it didn’t show any relation between the two variables.  It has not shown that one caused the other.  Another research with Medicare patients with pets had less visits to their doctor than similar patients without pets.  (Smith, 2006)

The American Psychological Association in Washington, DC conducted a study which included 217 people 79% were women average age 31 and family income of $77,000.  The survey was conducted to determine if pet owners different from non-pet owners in the following areas, well-being, personality, and attachment style.  Certain differences were found but in all of the cases the pet owners were happier.  In the second study it included 56 dog owners, 91% were women average age of 42 and family income $65,000.  This survey was conducted to determine if pet owners benefit more when their pet is fulfilling their social needs.  This study found that dog owners feelings of belonging increased their self-esteem.  The last study was with 97 college students average age of 19.  They found that pets made them feel better after being rejected.  There were asked to write about when they felt left out during this study.

Pets provide emotional support, make people feel relaxed and less stressed studies have shown this to be true.  Pets encourage people to be more social with other people this reduces the feeling of loneliness.  Dog owners engage more with strangers while walking their pets compared to non-pet owners.  Research has shown that children without siblings owning a pet help them develop empathy, better self-esteem and participation not only socially but physical activity as well. I believe that owning a pet is very important for the elderly because it does give them social support and a healthy well-being.  They are able to engage in more activities for example walking, climbing stairs, bend, prepare their own meals, take medication on their own and being able to bathe and dress themselves.  The research and studies that have been performed are promising they show that human animal engagement is good for our health.  The studies don’t show us which animals impact our health issues like mental and social well-being.  People that own pets know that the benefit of having one can bring lots of joy to our everyday life.

There needs to be more research to show the health benefits with information it can possibly change policies that can help more children and adults.  If we can show these benefits, we would be able to change regulations in schools, health assisted living facility treatment centers and places where animals are not allowed.  (Cherniacke&Cherniacke, 2014)

Conclusion of these studies suggests that in spite of known risks, human beings and companion animals have formed a remarkable bond over the centuries.  More scientific work is needed to study the therapeutic ratio of pet’s ownership, but some current data suggest that dependent, warm, loving and uncritical beings may be of significant benefit to a wide range of people, with special meaning to the elderly, the handicapped and the mentally and emotionally disturbed-whom other human beings may reject.  All research suggests that having animals as pets brings good effects to human health, but it varies human to human. 

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