Pet Rx: The Healing Power of Pets

“To his dog, every man is Napoleon; hence the constant popularity of dogs.”

Aldous Huxley

OREO
OREO

Everyone knows that they are man’s best friend, (and I certainly realize I’m showing my sweet cat Oreo in the pics) but we now know new reasons, beyond companionship and a paw to lean on, that dogs, or really any pet, are important to so many individuals. In fact, when you get home today you probably should give a special thanks to your pet for making you healthier.

Pet owners seem to have fewer illnesses and recover quicker when they do get sick. They handle stress better and experience less depression. Petting your dog or cat not only lowers their pulse rate and blood pressure but also yours. If you have suffered a heart attack, you have an easier recovery and better survival rate if you own a dog. If there is a pet in the house, diabetics do better controlling their blood sugar and individuals who have had surgery or cancer seem to have a better recovery.

Pets can be great for children as well. Not only do they gain a loyal friend, but also in caring for and raising a pet they can learn responsibility. Although some children have pet allergies, a recent study showed that babies who live in homes with two or more dogs and cats are much less likely to develop allergies than children in pet free homes.

Some pets can also be a great exercise machine. Unlike those bikes and steppers that collect dust in the basement, dogs will assure that daily walk or two. It’s good for both of you.

Baby Oreo
Baby Oreo

The pet-human health connection is quite strong, but we don’t exactly know why. I’m sure it’s about the relationship and friendship that develops. This year, I lost my dear friend Oreo. He was a “rescue” when he showed up on out back porch as a stranded kitten. He immediately became part of our family and our life. When he passed, he took a piece of me. The “rescue” thing seems to work both ways, something I know many will appreciate and understand.

Dogs, cats, fish, horses, turtles — there are so many choices to match your situation and personality. If it’s just not possible for you to own one, then visit a friend’s or at least watch Animal Planet. Learn more about them and show your appreciation for all they do for us.

“Take Rx Pet.” That’s the prescription of Walter M. Bortz, II, MD, a longevity expert, who believes that a pet is both a fine doctor and a dear friend.

This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.