PHYSICAL, SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL BENEFITS
In addition to encouraging us to get outside and be more active through play, pets play a key role in every stage of human development.
For the child, pets encourage a sense of responsibility, care and communication. There is clear scientific evidence that children growing up with a pet have a greater respect for all living things. Pets also provide children with unconditional love and this relationship provides friendship and instils confidence.
For adults, the pet takes on new roles - providing companionship for those living alone; encouraging owners to socialise when out walking. The benefits of pet ownership to the elderly are enormous.
People with psychological illnesses are also often happier as a result of looking after a pet. Psychiatrists willingly prescribe the adoption of a pet to combat depression, inactivity, neurosis and stress.
Studies have also looked at the unusual use for companion animals in prisons where pets have been carefully introduced. Staff and inmates alike reap benefits aiding the rehabilitation process.
A selection of research
- Cats cheer Children and Elderly People, Emma Osborne, Cats Protection
- Children who scored higher than average on the attachment to pets scale showed significantly higher scores on the empathy and prosocial orientation scales than non-owners, Vesna Vlahovic Stetic, Department of Psychology, University of Zagreb
- A five year study revealed that pet owning children who are slow learners, or whose parents have divorced cope better with life than those who don’t have a pet. Pet Health Council
- Pets as providers of social support: Evidence from a longitudinal study of spousal bereavement", June McNicholas, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK, who found out that at three months after the bereavement of their partner, pet owners showed fewer physical symptoms, such as crying, than non-owners. Read more about this research and more in The Telegraph.
- A nation-wide study led in France among retirement homes showed that the presence of an animal has a positive impact on residents. The most frequently mentioned qualities are affection (92 %), keeping guard (72 %), mobility (57 %). Ref : "Animals in Old Peoples' homes as a Symbol of Quality of Life" (Pascal Champvert, president ADEIIPA). You can read more in the Dog and Cat Pad.
- Pets prevent prisoners reoffending, Joan Dalton, Oregon, USA
- Pets may be more supportive than spouses, Karen Allen, USA. Centre for Advancing Health release .