When the dog was present, children had lower blood pressure measures, lower heart rates, and less behavioral distress.
However, research on the health benefits of child and animal interaction is still limited.
Social support from friends and family can have similar benefits, but interpersonal relationships often cause stress as well, whereas pets may be less likely to cause stress.
The social support provided by a pet might also encourage more social interactions with people, reducing feelings of isolation or loneliness.
In one study, elderly individuals that had a dog or cat were better able to perform certain physical activities deemed “activities of daily living,” such as the ability to climb stairs; bend, kneel, or stoop; take medication; prepare meals; and bathe and dress oneself.
There were not significant differences between dog and cat owners in their abilities to perform these activities.
Children with dogs or cats in their home during the first year of life are less likely to develop allergies in childhood.
As is true with any relationship, some human-pet relationships are likely to be more rewarding than others.
People with a dog or cat had lower resting heart rates and blood pressure measures at the beginning of the experiment than non-pet owners.
People with a dog or cat were also less likely to have spikes in heart rates and blood pressure while performing the math task, and their heart rates and blood pressure returned to normal more quickly.