The Health Benefits of Pets
Updated: Feb 16
So many of our lives are so deeply enriched by our pets and the love that they provide. Their furry snuggles and wet kisses give us great joy, but did you know having a pet can actually provide health benefits as well?
People who own pets are notably less stressed. There’s nothing like coming home from a long, difficult day at work to see a creature who’s so ecstatic that your home that they can’t even contain their excitement. Its easy to forget the stresses of the day when all you can focus on is your pet’s love and admiration for you. All humans crave connection and loneliness can be a heavy burden on one’s heart. Knowing you have a sweet little soul always waiting for you at home can greatly ease this loneliness. In fact, pets are often used in rehabilitation facilities for therapeutic purposes especially for people with addiction or mental disorders.
Having pets is also a great way to meet new people! Simply taking your dog for a walk is a surefire way to cross paths with other individuals who would love to meet you and your pup. Being social isn’t always easy for some, but many people can’t resist approaching someone with an animal with them. There are also plenty of communities where animal lovers can come together and celebrate their adoration of pets together such as dog parks, puppy kindergartens or cat shows.
Although mental health benefits are a great part of owning a pet, there is a plethora of physical health benefits that come along with a furry friend as well. One such benefit is the potential to lower your blood pressure, especially in people with hypertension. This ties back into stress, and a pet’s ability to decrease it.
Another study showed that those with pets, particularly men, had much lower cholesterol, although this could be attributed to those with pets simply living healthier lifestyles. People with cats are actually less likely to have a heart attack or stroke.
In people who have chronic pain, pets can also play a part in reducing this pain.
Our physical and mental selves are so closely intertwined. Anxiety and stress can greatly exacerbate chronic pain and the relief from anxiety that pet’s provide can in turn relieve the physical pain as well! One study showed that people with pets needed significantly less medication to relieve their chronic pain than those without pets.
Pets save lives every day. People who have diabetes can be much safer with a service dog at their side. Many dogs can actually sense when their owners’ blood sugar levels drop, and they will change their behavior accordingly. Dogs have been known to anticipate seizures in their owners and they will be able to get help if their owner does have a seizure.
Owning pets can also aid in strengthening a child’s immune system and allergen resistance. Children living in households without pets were found to miss school due to illness more often than children in pet households.
If total cuteness isn’t already a good enough reason to have a pet, the wonderful health benefits certainly are. Don’t forget to thank your furry friend for adding a few extra years to your life!