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  • Writer's pictureVicki Viall

Do Pet-Owned People Live Longer?

Having been a pet-owned person my entire life, I would give that a YES for me. Would you agree?

My childhood was far from idyllic and picture perfect. Having cats and dogs to talk with, to hold and love on, and to always count on is what got me through to the point that I was strong enough and old enough to say "No" to the abuse.

Even after that, I knew those pets were treasures. And, in some ways, more precious than people.

Don't get me wrong; there are wonderful people in the world and in my life. However, when the people/person you are supposed to be able to trust and count on 100% is not that, you look for anchors. I found that in my pets.

How about you? Have you had special pets in your life that you remember to this day? Perhaps, you have that special friend now.

No matter what the world throws at us or what each day holds, sitting with and/or holding a cat or dog and feeling their love flowing out all over you, well, that brings peace and calmness. At least it does to me.

They don't care what you are saying to them. They just care that you are there and are talking to them. And, feeding them. Loving on them. Feeding them. Brushing them. Feeding them treats. Snuggling with them. Sharing a bit of cheese. Well, you get the idea.

Few things in life can crush you completely like the loss of that pet when their time comes, can it?

Still, their time with us is worth every bit of that pain.

The benefits of being pet-owned are myriad. Those benefits even include better health for you.

"The studies found that, overall, dog owners tend to live longer than non-owners. And they often recover better from major health events such as a heart attack or stroke, especially if they live alone." (Note 1)

Something important to ALL of us right now is being able to lower our stress levels. Know what I mean? Well, check this out:

"Interacting with dogs can boost your production of “happy hormones” such as oxytocin, serotonin and dopamine. This can lead to a greater sense of well-being and help lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. And having a dog can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, ease depression and improve fitness." (See Note 1)

Back to my original question. Do pet owners live longer, check this out:

"To study the link between dogs and longevity, researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden reviewed national registry records of Swedish men and women, ages 40 to 80. They focused on 3.4 million people who had no history of cardiovascular disease in 2001, and followed their health records—as well as whether they registered as a dog owner—for about 12 years. Dog ownership registries are mandatory in Sweden, and every visit to a hospital is recorded in a national database."

"They found that dog owners had a lower risk of death due to cardiovascular disease than people who did not report owning a dog, as well as a lower risk of death from other causes. That was true even after adjusting for factors such as smoking, body mass index and socioeconomic status." (Note 2)

Let's not forget our meowy friends. To be honest, as much as I love dogs, I have had more cats and would call myself a cat person first and foremost. So, let's see what these little beasts can do for us.

"Science now claims cats can do more than just be a great pet. Cats offer so many health benefits to their owners in addition to being loving, sweet, and adorable." (Note 3)

There is little as wonderful as snuggling with a cat and having them purr you to peace, or sleep, or a peaceful sleep.

"Hearing your cat purr is very rewarding because it usually means your kitty is content."

"But what if purring had therapeutic effects for you too? The vibrations occur between a 20 to 140 hz range. This range of vibrations has been known to be medically therapeutic and lower stress." (See Note 3)

It is vital to each and everyone of us to have a posse of friends we can count on. I feel certain that each and everyone of us can agree on that, right? Well, let's see what the experts say about that and pet ownership, shall we?

"Friedman and Martin concluded that being connected to other people in their community did, in fact, enhance the subjects' longevity. These findings seem to conflict with other data about the value of social relationships for people as they age." (Note 4)

Just what I said, right? Let's keep going and see where pets fit in here.

" follows that a sense of responsibility and emotional interaction — the same emotions involved for pet owners — might account for the improved longevity." (See Note 4)

I am sure we have all read studies that provided data that is very convincing, but, is it really accurate?

With that in mind, I kept digging. Here you go...

"To study differences between pet owners and non-owners, the researchers turned to a huge data set - the ongoing California Health Interview Survey. Begun in 2001, it is the nation’s largest statewide comprehensive health survey. CHIS involves telephone interviews with randomly selected Californians. The interviews are conducted in five languages, and the sample is highly representative of the state's population in terms of sex, race, household composition, and income. In addition to basic questions related to health and demography, the 42,044 adults interviewed in the 2003 CHIS survey were also asked about dog and cat ownership." (Note 5)

"About half of the individuals interviewed lived with a pet: 26 percent of them owned a dog, 22 percent owned a cat, and 9 percent owned both. The researchers presented their results using statistics called “odds ratios.” Here is a summary of the results: to see the results, click on Note 5 above. It is VERY interesting!!

All of these sources can take you deeper into very valid information that supports my belief that pets do, indeed, help us to live longer.

But, I can't make up your mind for you. So, I encourage you to read all the sources above, search your own heart, question friends and neighbors, and then spend some quality time snuggling with your four-legged snuggle bunny.

And, only then, reach back out to me with YOUR results.

So, have a wonderful pet-filled week and we'll see you right back here next week. ;)

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