It’s only natural that anyone who loves their pets should see all the benefits when it comes to making room in their lives for a furry friend. But, believe it or not, science is in agreement with them, too. Owning a pet has been shown to have some seriously positive impacts on your health, mentally and physically. Here, we’re going to look at some of the health benefits that pet owners get to enjoy.
Playing off the pounds
Let’s talk about one of the most obvious benefits of owning some of the more energetic pets out there. This might not be true for those with more independent cats or rabbits, but owning a dog, ferret, or any other highly playful animal is great for providing you with a little exercise. If your dog is particularly energetic, then those big long walks are going to play a huge role in helping you manage your weight. With the lower risk of obesity due to more exercise comes the lower risk of several chronic illnesses, not to mention a lower risk of back or joint pain in later life. Walking your dog hardly feels like exercise, too, so it’s easy to get motivated to do it.
Breaking the ice
Isolation is becoming something of a minor health scare as of late. Whether the blame is to be laid at the feet of social media and the internet adding distance between us or the fact that increasingly urban lifestyles have us living on top of one another is uncertain. There has been a marked rise in people who consider themselves “isolated”, however. Pets are great for helping you with that, too. Walking your pet or even going to the vet for your checkups gives you a chance to meet like-minded people just as into their furry friends as you are into yours. There are even social meetup apps for dog owners looking for walking buddies, now.
Making a real positive impact
One of the most keenly felt health benefits a pet can offer, however, is in the realm of mental and emotional health. Animals, like cats and dogs, have been shown to have a truly huge impact in helping with issues like stress, anxiety, and depression. There are even animals like service cats whose role it is to provide those benefits. What is a service cat? Essentially, they provide emotional support, helping people with conditions like social anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, and PTSD manage their symptoms. Mental health professionals widely acknowledge that simply spending time with a cat or a dog, as the case may be, can help people better come when they are having serious trouble with their emotional health.
You may be skeptical of this idea at first. If anything, you have probably met people who are specifically allergic to pet hair. It’s true that pet hair does contain allergens. However, research has shown that children who grow up in a household with pets are much less likely to develop an allergic reaction to them in the long run. In fact, exposure to pets can stop people from developing any allergies or even asthma by improving your gut health. However, it’s worth noting that exposure to pets won’t “cure” anyone who already has asthma or allergies. Don’t go shaking your dog in anyone’s face; you’re just more likely to trigger an allergic reaction than anything.
Looking after heart and mind
Living with pets has been shown to drastically decrease your risk of blood clots for a couple different reasons. Owning a cat has been shown to cut the risk of a heart attack or a stroke by a third. One major reason for this is the stress-busting qualities that pets have, which reduces stroke risk. It also helps lower blood pressure thanks to the production of “feel-good” hormones, like dopamine and serotonin, when spending time with them. You can’t deny the power of the daily walkies when it comes to looking after heart health, either. Physical activity plays a key role in helping to protect the heart. Both physically and emotionally, pet ownership is likely to help decrease your chances of both heart attack and stroke.
If you’re ever trying to convince a partner or family member to let you get a pet, the five benefits above might just sway them a little if you’re lucky. Above all else, it just goes to show the positive impact that pet owners feel simply from having their favorite animal companion in their lives.