Animal magic is
good for health
THE drop in pet ownership may pose a risk to the nation's
health, as pets
have been linked to a variety of health benefits, according to
Professor Cary Cooper, of Lancaster University, says pets,
and dogs, provide a variety of benefits to the lonely and the
"There has been research showing that pets are a boost,
people with low emotional intelligence," he said. "For people
express emotions, having a pet helps lift inhibitions and gives
a sense of
security and reliability.
"Pets are also routinely brought to hospices and cancer wards as
patients. They offer a perceived unconditional love. Many people
that sort of affection elsewhere."
Prof Cooper added that, in physical terms, research had shown
that those who
had heart attacks see their risk drop if they own a pet.
"Whether that is
because having a dog forces them to take the dog for walks and
exercise or whether it's because of some sort of comfort and
by a pet, it's tough to say. Probably both."
He added that there was strong evidence that stroking cats and
blood pressure and heart rate, "but that's mostly in the short
"There are more tenuous studies that suggest cardiovascular and
health are both helped by having a pet," he said. "Most of these
involve cats and dogs. Unresponsive pets, such as reptiles,
have the same impact.
"But there is also something to be said for fish. It may not be
actually having fish in a tank relaxes you, but the sound of
water is very
soothing. From an evolutionary point of view, we once all lived
water sources so it would come as no surprise that the sound of
a fish tank
bubbling would have a positive psychological impact."