Sunday, January 15, 2006


A variety of studies indicate that pets have a positive influence on human health and contentment. Pets can also help the elderly cope with loneliness and isolation, especially when they live alone. Comprehensive studies conducted on coronary care patients reveal that the mortality rate of patients with pets was one third that of patients who did not have pets. Loneliness seems to contribute significantly to heart disease. Having and caring for a pet seems to ease the loneliness.
Pets seem to have a calming effect on the cardiovascular system. Blood pressure and heart rates are measurably lower when a pet is in the room. Some patients' blood pressure fell below resting levels when they gently stroked their pets. Even gazing at an aquarium of fish made a significant difference. Hospitals, nursing homes, and psychiatric facilities are using birds and fish for their proven effectiveness in a patient's recovery from a variety of mental and physical disorders. The University of San Francisco's School of Nursing offers a course to all third-year nursing students in the care and handling of animals as a therapeutic method of treating patients.
A pet providing nonjudgmental and non-demanding friendship is perhaps the primary concern of a lonely aged person. The effects of lowered heart rates, lower blood pressure, and a calming influence are of greater interest to health-care professionals. They recognize that animal companionship makes a very real difference in a patient's chances for long-term survival.
Lynch, J. J. "Man's Best Friendly Medicine." Creative Living 16: 16-20 (1987).


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