Anyone who’s ever owned a pet knows that pets can bring us a lot of happiness and joy. It’s nice to have a pet for companionship if you live alone, and it’s a great feeling when you get home from work and your dog greets you at the door. Relaxing with a cat purring on your lap is downright therapeutic, and I personally have spent many a night, both as a child and as an adult, crying myself to sleep with a faithful pet providing much needed comfort. Pets definitely improve your overall happiness levels, but how do pets improve your health? Here are just a few ways…
Why Pets Are Good for Your Health
Spending time with a pet releases endorphins, the feel-good hormone naturally released by our brains that creates a sense of well-being. Research shows that we release endorphins and our serotonin increases when we’re petting, snuggling, or talking to our pets.
Pets can reduce your heart rate and blood pressure. Studies have shown that people, both adults and children, who have pets have lower heart rates and less instances of high blood pressure. (But yes, you still have to exercise and eat a health diet LOL) Studies have also shown that people with pets tend to have fewer problems with high cholesterol, though the exact reason isn’t clear.
Pets can help improve your heart health. Studies have shown that people who have cats are less likely to die of a heart attack, and people who own dogs have a better survival rate one year after having a heart attack.
Having a dog will likely result in more exercise. Taking your dog for regular walks, often whether you feel like it or not, most likely results in your getting more exercise than you would otherwise.
Having a cat can reduce your chance of having a stroke. It’s not clear exactly why, but researchers think that having a cat can be more calming than owning any other animal. I personally think it’s the sound of purring, but I’m no expert 🙂
Being around animals can reduce allergies and improve your immune system. Studies have shown that children who grow up with pets (or on a farm) have fewer allergies and stronger immune systems.
Do pets improve your health? For more information, refer to this article by WebMd, which includes information regarding the various studies mentioned in this article.
Having a pet may not only improve your physical health, but pets improve mental health as well. Here are some of the ways…
Pets provide affection. There’s no doubt humans need to have physical contact and affection from other humans. But fortunately, getting affection from a pet can provide the same comfort. Regularly snuggling with or petting an animal can be very therapeutic.
Pets can give us purpose. If you’ve ever been depressed, you know how hard it can be to even get out of bed in the morning, let alone actually do anything productive. Pets can be helpful in this way because, no matter what’s going on in your life or how you’re feeling, they need to be fed, taken outside, and paid attention to. A cat meowing endlessly or a dog licking your face to get you out of bed in the morning can force you to have a purpose, which, in my opinion, can be life saving for a person who is chronically depressed.
Pets can help with anxiety. Having pet means you’re not alone. This not only help with depression, but with anxiety as well. Having the responsibility to care for your pet can also reduce anxiety by forcing you to focus on something, and the daily routine of caring for a pet helps with anxiety as well.
Pets boost your mood. When you spend time with a pet, your stress hormone, cortisol, lowers and your feel-good chemical, serotonin, increases. There have been many times in my life when I was feeling sad or miserable, and my pet suddenly doing something funny lifted my mood immediately.
Pets help us make friends! I’ve personally experienced this countless times in my life. People, myself included, just love to talk about their pets. Dog owners will often stop to talk to each other at parks and on walks. And cat owners can talk endlessly about all the silly things their cat do. Talking with other pet owners is a great way to create a bond and possibly a long-lasting friendship.
If you currently don’t own a pet, there are other ways you can spend time with animals and get the health benefits pets can provide. You can visit family members or friends who have pets. I personally like this because you get to have all the fun and health benefits pets provide without the responsibility or vet expenses! You could also become a dog walker or a pet sitter. A few of your neighbors might appreciate you walking their dog, looking after their pet when they’re away, or even stopping in for a visit with their pet while they’re at work all day. You could also consider volunteering at a local pet shelter or SPCA.
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