Health benefits of pets: why they’re worth the work

You just got back from another stressful day at school when your best friend pounces paws first onto you. Your face is now wet from the slobber of your furry companion but you wouldn’t trade it for the world: your pet is your family, your best friend, your soul mate. But did you know that your pet benefits your health?
Many studies have been developed to discover the health effects of pets. According to WebMD research, pets decrease blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels, lowering the risk of heart attack. In the case of students, anxiety attacks can be lessened because animals are known to provide stress release and distract from the pressure of student life.
“Whenever I was having a really bad day I would lock myself in my room and hide myself away from everyone.”senior Elliott Swan said. “Douglas, my cat, would scratch on my door until I let her in and she would cuddle up next to me,”
Not only can pets be an emotional crutch, but dogs can act as motivators because they require exercise, and while going for a walk, owners exercise too. Exercise helps reduce stress.
Doctor Samuel B. Ross, executive director of Green Chimneys Children’s Services in Brewster, N.Y., where animals are used in treating emotionally disturbed children, has done extensive research on the health, emotional and psychological effects of pets.
“You can’t stay sad when you’re cuddling a rabbit or riding a horse. No matter how rotten you feel, animals are accepting,” Ross said.
Children who grow up with pets are known to have better social skills and are more likely to share and play with others. They also grow more empathetic towards others and develop a sense of responsibility towards their animal companions.
“I think one of the ways growing up without a pet would be different is being less responsible and less caring about anyone else and more about yourself,” Swan said.
Those who grow up with pets tend to be more outgoing and have a higher self-esteem then those who are not. Children learn a lot of basic but crucial skills that they are taught by caring for and playing with their pets.
“Seeing my son grow up with our dog, they share a special bond that’s unique that my husband and I don’t share with her.” social studies teacher Amy Cooke said. “I think it teaches him empathy and patience.”
Here at Liberty, many students have found solace in their pets to breath amidst the chaos of growing up.
“Dogs are stress relieving.” junior Bethany Locke said. “I know that sounds corny, but it is so true. Dogs can’t judge you and they are always there for you,”
Pets, in general, are natural caregivers to anyone they meet.
“To pets, you are their whole world. You feed them and love them, but to you they are only a part of your world. Pets are extremely accepting and sometimes that’s all anyone needs,” junior Madison West said.