A pet is certainly a great friend. After a difficult day, pet owners quite literally feel the love. In fact, for nearly 25 years, research has shown that living with pets provides certain health benefits. Pets help lower blood pressure1 and lessen anxiety2. They boost3 our immunity. They can even help you get dates.

Allergy Fighters
The old thinking was that if your family had a pet, the children were more likely to become allergic to the pet. And if you came from an allergy-prone family4, pets should be avoided.
However, a growing number of studies have suggested that kids growing up in a home with “furred animals” – whether it’s a pet cat or dog, or on a farm and exposed to large animals – will have a lower risk of allergies and asthma5. In a recent study, the blood of babies immediately after birth and one year later was analyzed.
If a dog lived in the home, infants were less likely to show evidence of pet allergies – 19% versus 33%. They were also less likely to have eczema6, a common skin allergy that causes red patches and itching7. In addition, they had higher levels of some immune system chemicals – a sign of stronger immune system activation.
“Dogs are dirty animals, and this suggests that babies who have greater exposure to dirt and allergens have a stronger immune system,” the study says.

Date Magnets
Dogs are great for making love connections. Forget Internet matchmaking – a dog is a natural conversation starter.
This especially helps ease people out of social isolation or shyness, the study says.
“People greet each other, ask about the breed8; they watch the dog‘s tricks,” a researcher says. “Sometimes the conversation stays at the ‘dog level;’ sometimes it becomes a real social interchange.”

Dogs for the Aged
A recent study says that dog owners have significantly lower levels of anxiety and depression. Dogs should be loaned9 to the elderly because they keep people a decade younger.
So if you have grandparents whom you love, give them a chance to own a dog or at least walk your dog as often as possible.
Dog owners over the age of 65 have fitness levels a decade younger than their biological age, according to a new study.
The authors of the research said that public health officials should introduce “dog loaning” schemes so that more people could benefit from a canine friend.
Previous studies have looked at the positive benefits of pet ownership on the elderly, with dog owners being shown to have fewer symptoms of depression and decreases in blood pressure and heart rate.
However, a study published in Preventative Medicine is the first to examine levels of physical activity in detail among pensioners with and without dogs.
One of the researchers said: “It is well known that pet ownership may help alleviate10 feelings of loneliness and depression in older people, but one area that has received little attention is the effect of dog ownership on the physical activity levels of the elderly.”
“Our results show that dog ownership is associated with an increased level of physical activity in the over-65s.”
“On average, older dog owners were 12 per cent more active than their counterparts who did not own a dog.”
Throughout the study, the activity of 547 elderly people was monitored – with an average age of 79. Around 50 people – nine per cent – of those monitored were dog owners, and 75 per cent of them walked their dogs.
Over a seven-day period participants were asked to wear an accelerometer which measured their movements. The dog owners were found to match the levels of activity of those without a dog, who were ten years younger.
“Our results suggest that dog ownership may motivate personal activity and enable older people to overcome many potential barriers such as lack of social support, inclement11 weather and concerns over
personal safety.”
The researchers suggest that public health officials should consider setting up schemes to lend dogs to those without them, or to set up walking groups to encourage people to take more exercise.

Critical Thinking
Do you agree with the above statements? Explain your reasons.
Do you have a dog? Why or why not? How much time do you spend with it every day?
Dog ownership also definitely represents nuisances12. Name a few of them. Dog ownership also means a lot of enjoyment. Name some benefits of owning a dog.

Janka Něničková

Vocabulary: 1.znížiť krvný tlak – snížit krevný tlak; 2. zmenšiť úzkosť, obavy – zmenšit úzkost, obavy; 3. zvyšujú – zvyšují; 4. rodina náchylná na alergie – rodina náchylná na alergie; 5. / æsm∂/ astma; 6. /eksim∂/ ekzém; 7. svrbenie – svědění; 8. plemeno; 9. by sa mali zapožičiavať – by se měli zapůjčovat; 10. /∂li:vieit/ zmierniť, zmenšiť – zmírnit, zmenšit; 11. nevľúdne – nevlídné;12. otrava, mrzutosť – otrava, svízel