Owning a pet can save you money and even add years to your life. Although it is true that companion animal guardianship is not cheap, it is arguably a bargain.
Historically, felines and canines have provided valuable services for humans. Although they may be fetching the newspaper rather than the hunt now, pets still have a purrpose. Among other things, people use felines to get their rodent problems under control and canines to guard their homes and families. Police say that two of the top theft deterrents are motion lights and dogs. Of course, the reality is your pampered puss may be too lazy to flick a whisker at a mouse and your pooch may pledge undying obedience to anyone with a Milk-Bone crumb.
Ironically, if you have a pet, the fact that your pooch is a mooch may be less likely to stress you out. Studies of women undergoing stress tests, found that having a canine present lowered blood pressure more than the company of friends did (proof that dogs really are mankind’s best friend).
While contemplating the hole that Fido is digging to China in your petunia patch or your cat’s determination to substitute your leather couch for the scratching post, you may note that they aren’t just stress reducers. Don’t fret — companion animals are healthy for us in a plethora of ways.
For starters, it seems our feline friends share some of their resistance to the Grim Reaper with us. A University of Minnesota study found that people without cats were 30 to 40 percent more likely to die of cardiovascular disease than cat owners. A 2006 Canadian study demonstrated that owning a cat is more effective at lowering cholesterol than drugs. Cat ownership can also reduce the risk of strokes and improve immune function.
Canine guardians have a motivation to exercise their pup (especially if they want to keep Fido from eating their shoes, chasing the neighbor’s cat or mauling grandma when she visits). This is good for your physical health, provides an impetus to get outside and even presents great opportunities for social interaction, as many bachelors well know.
Animal companionship can be especially beneficial to the young, elderly and chronically ill. No kidding, children in households with pets are less likely to develop asthma and allergies. Caring for pets can also purrpetuate responsible behavior in young people. Senior citizens make 30 percent fewer doctor visits than those without pets. Heart attack patients with pets survive longer than those without. Additionally, pets have been found to be therapeutic for people with autism, depression, anxiety disorders, ADHD, hypoglycemia, learning disorders, Parkinson’s, diabetes and epilepsy.
If you find yourself anguishing over a costly vet bill or the expense of replacing the balustrade your puppy used as dental floss, remember that obedience school is a heck of a lot cheaper than college tuition. And if that isn’t enough, the next time your cat requisitions your lap or your pooch demands play time, gratefully acquiesce. Interactions like these can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine which make you feel good.
Considering adding a fur-being to your family? These delightful packages of unconditional love, loyalty and companionship don’t have to cost you an arm and a beg. Pass on the savings by adopting an animal from the pound. After all, every pet owner is a lucky dog.
• Moksha McClure is the founder of Whiskers Resort, a pet hotel in Lihu‘e offering doggie day care, grooming and overnight boarding for cats and dogs for more than a decade. Visit www.whiskersresort.com or call 241-PETS.