Neal D. Johnson,M.D.
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Therapeutic Effects of Pets Questioned

A new study claims that having pets at home does not really equate to having a happier and healthier life. Although previous studies are suggesting a longer life for pet owners, Howard Herzog says this is a hodgepodge of contradictions.

A psychology professor at Western Carolina University, Prof. Herzog says the correlation between having pets and living a healthier and longer life has done nothing but “produce a mishmash of conflicting results.”

“While pets are undoubtedly good for some people, there is presently insufficient evidence to support the contention that pet owners are healthier or happier or that they live longer,” Prof. Herzog elaborates. “While some researchers have reported that positive effects accrue from interacting with animals, others have found that the health and happiness of pet owners is no better and in some cases worse, than that of non-pet owners.”

The WCU professor mentioned previous studies that showed the benefits of having a pet. In one study, the researchers revealed that heart attack victims with pets were four times more likely to live through the ordeal and survive for at least a year compared to their petless counterparts.

While most people focus on the optimistic studies, Prof. Herzog says people tend to ignore the depressing and gloomy ones. There was one particular study, which reported that pet owners are more likely to die from heart attack than non-pet owner. It did not get any media coverage.

A pet owner himself, Prof. Herzog does not undermine the effects of having a pet as a therapeutic tool but merely wants thorough scientific research regarding the matter.

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