What is it like to have pets

Pets: Why they are good for people

Goldfish cannot be stroked, but the sight of them is still relaxing. Studies show that dealing with pets has many advantages for the owner.

  • © dpa
    Studies have shown that the mere presence of an animal helps people. For example, caressing lowers blood pressure.
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    A bird is always a lot to talk about. This sometimes makes contact with others easier.
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    Regularly out for a walk: Anyone who has dogs no longer has an excuse to be couch potato - they even do a lot for their health.
"Animals are good" is the saying again and again. Sure, walking the dog outside can't hurt. But what is it really about the thesis? In fact, there are some studies that have found beneficial effects that animals have on humans.

Numerous studies on the subject

"For decades, a socio-psychological research approach that examined certain effects of pets on their owners dominated," says Detlev Nolte, Secretary General of the Research Group on Pets in Society in Bremen. The results were mainly based on surveys and observations. However, scientifically based research approaches have also slowly developed.

Results confirm: animals are good for people

Today there is ample evidence that pets are good for their owners - in many ways. For example, there are the physical effects, i.e. the physical effects on pet owners. One thing is quite obvious, but therefore no less important: "According to a study by US scientists, 150 minutes of exercise per week are enough to have a positive effect on the cardiovascular system," explains cardiologist Ralf Jordan, chief physician of the Clinic for Cardiac Rehabilitation and Prevention in Duisburg. Dog owners are more likely to reach this time than people without a dog.

Pet owners are more active

Also, studies have shown that people who exercise in the fresh air every day have stronger immune systems. "A dog forces you to go out regularly, but people who have or look after a horse have to get out of their apartment again and again," says Udo Kopernik, spokesman for the Association for the German Dog Industry in Dortmund.

Animals have a calming effect
But you don't always have to leave your own four walls. “It has been proven that the mere presence of animals and, above all, petting help a lot to lower people's blood pressure and heart rate,” says the cardiologist Jordan. The sympathetic nervous system is less active, which is why fewer stress hormones such as adrenaline are released. This applies less to goldfish than to dogs, cats or small animals.

Movement with the animal helps with asthma and brochitis

"Several researchers have also found that physical activity has a positive effect on chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure and chronic bronchitis," says Jordan. Moving with animals can help. Illnesses remained constant more often, and the number and intensity of seizures such as bronchitis could be reduced.

Pet owners find contact more quickly

In addition to the physical effects, animals can also be good for the psyche. Above all, if you live alone and have a pet, you not only feel less lonely, but also find it easier to connect with other people. "Animals can have the function of an icebreaker and facilitate contacts in the social environment," says Detlev Nolte, describing the phenomenon. If you go for a walk with your dog outside, you are more likely to be addressed than if you just drag two shopping bags home. Those who keep a budgie in a retirement home are more likely to get a visit from roommates, and a cat may also make neighbors in the otherwise anonymous apartment building curious. "Animals create a harmless opportunity for a conversation," says Nolte. "I can just ask how the bird is doing today and start talking."

Animals make people feel needed

In addition, there is the good feeling of being needed by your animal. “It's good for everyone,” says Kopernik. Older people in particular, who leave their job after many years, or parents whose house suddenly seems so empty without children, often find an animal very pleasant.

Motivate animals

Something similar may apply to sick people: "Numerous studies indicate that an animal can be an additional motivation to get back on its feet," says Kopernik. That could be comparable to small children who have to be looked after. "Then you don't complain for a long time, but see to it that you feel well again quickly."

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Animals can comfort

Animals can also help with sadness. "Our research group once carried out an investigation into what function dogs had in children when their parents divorced," reports Nolte. The result: dogs can then act as a kind of neutral third party who simply listens to the concerns without responding. "Dogs clearly had the function of comforter and conversation partner." But even adults often felt happier because of animals. "The mere presence or touch of an animal can help calm down."

Pets enrich life

Dog, cat or bird bring work and responsibility with them. But they also help many people to shape their lives. One study comes to the conclusion: People can benefit from pets. more

Source: dpa

| Updated November 13, 2015

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