Americans love their pets – in 2015 alone, over 60 billion dollars was spent to purchase and care for them. In the United States, over 312 million dogs, cats, birds, horses, fish, reptiles and other small animals are kept as pets and companions.
Many people adopt pets for companionship, but there are many other benefits to owning an animal. Research has shown pets help lower blood pressure and lessen anxiety. Contrary to what many parents have believed, a growing number of studies suggest children growing up in a home with furred animals have less risk of developing allergies and asthma. The same studies have found these children also had stronger immune systems.
Alzheimer’s and dementia patients have fewer outbursts if there are pets in the home. Children with autism or learning disorders usually interact better with animals, and this behavior can serve as a bridge to connecting with humans. Dogs in particular are helpful in calming hyperactivity and aggression, as well as stimulating imagination.