Many parents have had to field the question “Can we get a dog?” from their young children, but many are prohibited from adopting pets because of estate regulations. However, more and more, sustainable estates are being developed with a pet-friendly ethos, which is beneficial for both pets and their owners. Research continues to show the incredible physical and mental benefits of pets for everyone from young children to the elderly.
1. Pets help fight allergies
Considering the number of people who are allergic to cats, it seems unlikely that pets can actually prevent allergies, but it’s true. An American-based paediatrician, James Gern MD, conducted a study that analysed the blood of babies immediately after birth and then a year later. The studies, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, indicated that infants were less likely to have pet allergies or skin conditions, or eczema, if there were furred animals in and around the home – cats, dogs and even farm animals. As Gern explains, babies with greater exposure to dirt and allergens build stronger immune systems.
2. Pets help the elderly
On the other side of the age spectrum, pets are shown to be beneficial for the body and mind. According to a six-year study of elderly individuals by Dr Tiffany Braley of the University of Michigan Medical Center, the cognitive scores of pet owners decreased at a slower rate than those without pets. Lynette Hart, PhD, associate professor at the University of California at Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, said that studies indicate that Alzheimer’s patients have fewer anxious outbursts if there is an animal in the home. Pet ownership has been shown to help with cognitive function and provides valuable companionship as well.
3. Pets fight anxiety and stress
In a CNN article, American psychologist Harold Herzog who works as a professor at Western Carolina University has long studied the human-animal connection. His results show that pets help minimise stress levels overall, with pets providing vital emotional support during highly stressful times. He was quoted as saying: “Studies have shown repeatedly that people’s good mood increases and bad mood decrease around pets. And so we know that there are immediate short-term benefits, physiological and psychological, to interacting with pets. I do not doubt that.”
4. Pets are good for longevity
Pets certainly make the heart happy, but they do more than this. In fact, said Mount Sinai endocrinologist Dr Caroline Kramer, lead author of a new systematic review of nearly 70 years of global research published a study in the American Heart Association journal which shows that ‘having a dog is actually protective against dying of any cause’. They review the health benefits of pet ownership involving nearly 4 million people in the United States, Canada, Scandinavia, New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom. The results indicated a 24% reduction in dying with those who’d suffered a heart attack or stroke 31% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease. Part of the reason can be attributed to the fact that pet owners are more likely to get out and walk their pets, which increases daily exercise.
5. Pets are good for those with ADHD
School-going children with ADHD can greatly benefit from having a pet. According to News in Health, a study has found that dogs can help children with ADHD focus their attention. Researchers enrolled two groups of children diagnosed with ADHD in 12-week group therapy sessions. The first group of kids read to a therapy dog once a week for 30 minutes. The second group read to puppets that looked like dogs. The first group showed better social skills and more sharing, cooperation, and volunteering with fewer behavioural problems. The organisation, CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention-deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder), says that having a companion animal can help a child manage time and plan as they require care and attention.
Development Director of Serenity Hills on the KZN South Coast, Sam Wenger, says designing a pet-friendly estate was important for meeting the needs of potential new homeowners: “As pet lovers ourselves, we’re well aware of the importance of four-legged friends in the household. When planning the estate, we knew that allowing for pets would be central to the ethos of this nature-based, family-friendly development.”
Residents at Serenity Hills are permitted to have two medium-sized dogs and one cat per unit. Beyond the pet-friendly ethos, Serenity Hills boasts several other unique features including:
• Natural living: Residents have safe access to the private mountain biking trails, walking and running routes, and fishing at the dam with sightings of resident bird and animal species.
• Eco-conscious designs: The incorporation of gas geysers and hobs, LED lighting, solar panels, water collection and more results in low utility costs.
• Guaranteed water supply: There are reservoirs on the estate that guarantee water supply to residents for three months. There’s also an additional option for buyers to put in the rainwater collection tanks.
• On-site medical care: There will be serviced apartments, frail care, frail care, dementia and step-down facilities.
• Gastronomy: The award-winning Packshed Restaurant provides delicious food and wines, with freshly-baked pastries delivered via the Tuk-Tuk bakery to homes.
• Security: There is 24-hour, state-of-the-art security including perimeter fencing, thermal cameras, access control and private security personnel.
• Facilities: The Clubhouse will be a laidback spot as well as a lively social hub with many activities. There’s a playground and jungle gym, workshops, and an Observation Tower which is the highest point in Margate.
• Vegetable gardens: There will be Schrebergärten to encourage locally grown produce.
To find out more about Phase 1 of Serenity Hills, visit www.serenityhills.co.za or follow @serenityhillsecoestate on Facebook and Instagram.