6 Reasons Why Owning a Pet Can Make You Healthier
Dogs are man’s best friend, and cats are perfect companions. But did you know that your furry friend can actually improve your health? From improved heart condition to lowered stress, there are significant health benefits to owning a pet. Considerable research over the last 25 years has found that living with a pet can improve your physical and mental health, improve your immunity, and give your social life a boost. If you’re considering adopting a new pet, or want to appreciate your pet a little more, keep reading for six ways owning a pet can make you healthier. Reduced Risk of Allergies In the past, dogs and cats were considered allergens. People thought that children would be more likely to develop allergies if the family had a pet. They also believed that if your family was more prone to allergies, you should avoid having a pet altogether. Thankfully, new research shows that this is not necessarily the case. While children and adults can certainly suffer from pet-related allergies, growing up with a pet may reduce your risk of allergies. Children who grow up around pets, including cats, dogs, or large animals, may have less of a chance of developing both allergies and asthma. If you are concerned about allergies, you can always consult your doctor or your child’s doctor before bringing your new pet home. For children with a dog living at home, studies have found a reduced occurrence of eczema. The allergy skin condition is common among babies and children, causing red patches on the skin and itching. Being exposed to a dog, and the dirt and germs they carry, helped improve the immune system of babies. The exposure boosted their immune system to common allergens. Improved Social Life Did you know a dog can help you get dates? If you’re not looking to date, dogs can also help you make new friends and create lasting connections over a common bond. Studies have found that owning a dog encourages people to get out more, visiting dog parks, going on walks, and interacting with other dog owners. Having a pet can help ward off isolation and feelings of loneliness. Not only do you have your furry friend to keep you company, but you have an entire community of pet owners that would love to connect with you! Meet someone new at the dog park, strike up a conversation with someone walking their dog, or join a local club for your dog breed. The possibilities for interaction and connection are endless. Decreased Stress and Anxiety Pets are not a cure for stress or anxiety, but they can certainly help alleviate the symptoms.
Having a pet at home offers a comforting presence every time you return from work or school. Dogs and cats also live in the present moment, unconcerned with the past or the future. For people with anxiety, that mindset can be very beneficial. A long day at the office can be relieved by the sight of your dog bounding up to greet you at the door. A bad mood can be lifted by a sweet cuddle session with your cat. Whatever your situation, pets offer the perfect remedy. Owning a pet also forces you to think about something other than yourself. No matter how stressed or tired you are, your pet depends on you for a variety of things. From filling up their food and water bowls to taking them on a walk, there are many activities required of pet owners that can help pull you out of a funk. Better Heart Health There are significant heart health benefits to owning a pet. In addition to reduced stress and anxiety, a pet can help lower your heart rate and your blood pressure. Owning a pet can help reduce your risk of heart disease, including lower levels of triglyceride and cholesterol when compared to non-pet owners. For patients you have suffered a heart attack, a pet may be just what the doctor ordered. Some studies have found that heart attack patients who own a pet can live longer than those who do not. Increased Physical Activity When you own a dog, you better be ready to run and play. Having a pet can greatly increase your level of daily exercise, improving your overall physical health. Your dog will need to go on walks to stay healthy and spend time playing outside to stay engaged and content. These activities require you to get up and get moving on a regular basis. If you are not used to significant physical activity, owning a pet can add some structure to your day. You will need to consistently take care of your pet’s needs when it comes to food and exercise. Dogs are also great motivators, helping you find the energy to get off the couch and go for a quick jog. Health Benefits of Pets for Children and the Elderly Almost everyone can benefit from owning a pet, and children and elderly are no exception. Pets have been found to be excellent companions for adults with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, heart attack patients, and more. Dogs and cats provide constant companionship for the elderly, especially those who live alone. Pets can help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression and improve a person’s overall mood. For children, owning a pet offers many health and wellness benefits. In addition to reduced
allergens and a lowered risk of asthma, caring for a pet teaches children about compassion and responsibility. Children will be more active, playing with their pet, and they will have the love of a companion to help as they develop their self-image. Studies have found that children who are emotionally attached to pets have a better time building relationships with other children and adults. Owning a pet is a big responsibility, but the love of a dog or cat makes it all worth it. If you struggle with mental or physical health, a pet may help you improve your overall well-being. If you already have a furry friend at home, be sure to give them some extra love to say thank you for all they do!