Dr Faizan Gulzar
Everyone realizes and does not hesitate to admit that earlier humans were happy than today and one of the causes was having a reach to the nature, especially to animals.
It is said that the first animal to be domesticated by humans was the dog then followed other animals; the reason was nature of companionship of animals. Humans have been living with domestic animals for thousands of years. In actual fact, the entire history of civilization has been accompanied by and in many ways dependent on animals that live in our communities. Therefore, the modern popularity of keeping a pet, despite no longer having contact with other animals is not surprising.
The role animals play in our lives appears to shift in emphasis as we move through different life stages . 81% of owners say they never feel alone when they are with their pets . 91% of owners feel very close to their pets almost as many say they feel as close to their families. 56% of women and 41% of men say their pet is more affectionate than their partner. Increased research interest in pets has shown that pets help people to build social bridges in communities, acting as social lubricants with neighbors or strangers or motivators for walking and use of parks. This allows pet owners to feel more involved through greater contact with other around them, reducing isolation.
A study by the University of Western Australia’s School of Population Health found that over 50% of dog owners and 40% of pet owners, in general, meet people in their neighborhood as a result of their pets. (This is sociologically termed as social capital) . in addition to social health, pet ownership has diverse effect on physical and psychological health. Consider the following examples:
Cardiovascular health : the positive impact of the pets on C.V health was first recognized in the early 1980’s when a study found that pet owners were much less likely to die in 12 month followed a heart attack than non pet owners . In 1992 , study of 5,741 participants attending screening clinic revealed that pet owners showed lower risk factors of heart diseases , including lower blood pressure , lower cholesterol than non pet owners . The result amounted to a possible 4% reduction in risk of heart diseases. Several studies clearly demonstrated that pet owners make fewer annual visits to doctor & spend less time in hospital thus saving in national health expenditure.
Stress: Owing pet has been linked to a reduction in mental stress and 79% of owners find it comforting to be with pets when things go wrong . Medically used to provide therapy to relieve stress termed as Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) and Animal Assisted Activities (AAA) are used currently. Pets provide a powerful buffering effect against grief . In one study of elderly people who had recently lost spouse, having a strong attachment to a pet was associated with significantly less depression.
Social Health: Pets have been shown to greatly increase quality of life for the elderly including reduced tension, fatigue, confusion and increased feeling of enthusiasm, interest and inspiration. Today, the world is suffering from social ill treatment to family elders especially parents by their children, one of the major cause is lack of affection , love and responsibility to care this can be overcome by upbringing of child with pets rather than life less toys; moreover , it aids in child development especially nurturing and social skills.
A study has shown that growing up with a pet during infancy helps to strengthen the immune system and reduce the risk of allergies linked to Asthma . Self esteem has been shown to be higher in children who have a pet.
All the studies on pets and their ownership reveal that , It is the need of hour to revert back to animal rearing practice, which we have left off shore. At the end I would like to quote the last messenger Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W). “Whoever is kind to the creatures of God is kind to himself”.
— The author is a Veterinary Assistant Surgeon at the Animal Husbandry Department. He can be reached at: email@example.com