2020 has taught us all the importance of immunity. We’re all actively working to improve our immune systems. Strategies for doing so vary greatly when it comes to practicality and whether they’re proven scientifically. One way that we’re learning about to improve our immune function is our pets.
Most people today spend a lot of time with their pets. In fact, 65% of homes in the U.S. have at least one pet. So, it should come as no surprise that researchers are interested in learning whether all this time with our furry loved ones has any influence over our health. While research’s findings here have been somewhat mixed, recent data does support several health benefits owning a pet has on a person.
The Psychological Benefit of Owning a Pet
The most recent research stated that pet ownership is associated with better psychological wellbeing for persons who had mental health conditions. This study surveyed 2,000 pet owners and found that 74% reported their health improved because they own a pet. Some studies also suggest that pets help stave off death – a 24% reduced risk of dying in 10 years.
How Pets Affect Immunity
One way that pets specifically affect our immunity is by lowering our risk of developing allergies. In 2012 a study showed that when children were introduced to pets early on in their lives they were less likely to develop eczema. This was especially true when it came to dogs. In the same study, it was also discovered that exposure to dogs at an early age also lowered a child’s risk of developing other allergies. Unfortunately, this wasn’t true for cats.
Research also suggests that exposure to pets influences specific parts of the immune system. For instance, after petting a dog people had an increase of the immune antibody IgA which plays a major role in our immune defense.
One of the biggest effects of animals on our immunity has to do with our stress response. Science has proven that chronic psychological stress damages the immune system, making it more difficult for us to fight off infections and resulting in higher levels of inflammation. Pets’ companionship can help ward this off. Therapy dogs are known to reduce cortisol levels and reduce psychological strain.
Pet ownership may also change our microbes (the bugs that live on and in us). These microbes are heavily influenced by our immune system. This is why dogs and their owners have similar skin microbes.
What Research Says About pet Ownership and Immunity
All of this research is actually quite interesting and noteworthy. When you consider the big picture of all this research it seems like it’s telling us that pet ownership affects our health in a variety of different ways. Although there are some pets who don’t do much in the way of increasing our immunity levels, all of them do have at least some positive impact on our immunity. We experience these positive effects through the direct influence that our pets have upon us and our immune system as well as indirectly since pets help to lower our stress level and improve our social connections. However, the bottom line is that our furry friends are doing much more than granting us some much needed companionship right now. They’re also helping us with our immune systems.
Not everyone can or should own a pet, but everyone can and should take care of their health. If you live in Clearwater, FL, or St Petersburg, FL, TMS Advantage is here to help you with this. Make sure you reach out and contact them today.
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