The pleasure felt by pet owners has been quantified by researchers, who say $3 billion is saved on health spending in Australia, due to the benefits of pet ownership.
“We know the health benefits of animals can include a reduction in blood pressure, reduced risk of heart disease, increased sense of well-being and an increased feeling of connectedness to their community,” says Master of Philosophy student Maggie O'Haire, from The University of Queensland's Centre for Companion Animal Health and School of Psychology. She and her fellow researchers have estimated the annual savings to the Australian health system of people living with pets to be $AU3.86 billion ($US3.23 billion).
Christine Carter, Ph.D., shares information about a study, which tracked “hypertensive stockbrokers” who adopted a cat or dog; caring for their new animals lowered their blood pressure more than prescribed medicine!
Another study proves dog-owners tend to get more exercise than folks without a dog. As I explored in a previous Catalyzing Happiness blog (‘Putting The Fun Into Fitness’), exercise is a sure way to boost health and happiness.
But what if your current situation doesn't allow for you to own a cat or dog of your own? Maybe you live in an apartment, or with folks who have allergies? There are tons of other ways you can still benefit from the therapeutic properties of animal interaction:
Since animals increase our happiness, it’s only fair that we return the favor. Here are a few ways of catalyzing our own happiness by making life better for animals, according to PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk in her book Making Kind Choices:
- Spruce up your yard: Bushes with edible berries not only look attractive but also provide a food source for wildlife. So you'll be filling your yard with flora and fauna.
- Stop smoking: Tobacco companies conduct painful invasive and skin corrosion tests on animals, so kicking this bad habit helps kick animal testing, too.
- When the occasion calls for a gift, bring cruelty-free products or sponsor an animal at a sanctuary in the name of the new baby or couple.
- Establish a plan for emergencies: Plan ahead to keep your animal companions safe in an emergency situation by filling a carrier with leashes, bowls, veterinary records, medicines, a photo of each animal, and a list of hotels that accept animal guests during natural disasters.