Yesterday, we spent some time talking about one way that pandemic stress could be keeping you up at night. So today, I want to share some good news: Recent research has also identified a simple form of protection against such stress.
And let me just say, as a proud dog dad to my dear beagle Remington, this latest discovery is music to my ears…
An emotional bond
Researchers from the U.K. conducted a survey of 6,000 participants during the country’s lockdown period, lasting from late March to early June of this year. Roughly 90 percent of respondents reported having at least one pet.
And whether it was a dog, cat, guinea pig, or fish, that animal companion ended up providing a significant buffer against psychological stress.
More than 90 percent of the survey’s respondents said that their pet helped them cope with the emotional fallout of lockdown. And nearly all of them said that their pet also helped keep them fit and active. (Which, as we all know by now, is vitally important for a number of reasons.)
In fact, the lower subjects scored in mental health at the beginning of the lockdown, the stronger their emotional bond was with their pet by the end of it.
On the downside, 68 percent reported having worries about access to veterinary care or concerns about who might care for their pet if they became ill. But in the end, it’s safe to say that the benefits surely outweighed the drawbacks.
And I’m not at all surprised. Of course, with a smart and loving dog like Remington, I can’t help but be biased. But if you ask me, pets are always worth it.
Dodge death with a wagging tail
Granted, as the entire country works toward reopening, the extreme isolation of spring’s lockdown days is mercifully behind many of us. But with winter on its way again—and indoor activities still posing significant risks—the months ahead are bound to bring some déjà vu.
So if you’ve been thinking about fostering or adopting a pet, now might be the perfect time to take the plunge and bring a new furry family member home.
In fact, assuming you have the time and ability to care for it, any time is a good time to introduce a pet to your life. Because plenty of other research shows that animal companions can add years to your life, regardless of what’s happening in the headlines—as I discussed in the December 2019 issue of my monthly newsletter, Logical Health Alternatives (“The surprising secret to living better, longer”).
In fact, one recent study found that dog owners were:
- 25 percent less likely to die from any cause
- 65 percent less likely to die after a heart attack
- Nearly 30 percent less likely to die from any cardiovascular problem
This study didn’t look at potential influencing factors like better overall fitness or healthier lifestyles. So it can’t prove that dog ownership wards off death all by itself.
But the conclusions certainly suggest as much. Which means that your four-legged friend may be saving your life—quite literally—as you read this.
Being a pet owner requires a lot of time, energy, and devotion. But in return, our animal companions give back at least as much in physical and emotional health benefits. So give them all you’ve got… and let love do the rest.
“Pets linked to maintaining better mental health and reducing loneliness during lockdown, new research shows.” Science Daily, 09/26/2020. (sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/09/200926145210.htm)