10 Ways a Pet Can Improve Mental and Physical Health
Pets are indeed the most amazing creatures on this planet. Little (or maybe not so much) balls of fur that light up our lives with their purrs and wagging tails. They teach us compassion, selfless love, responsibility and lots of other traits; it wouldn’t be wrong to say that they substantially influence our lives. But among all other great things, these pets also contribute to our health in a variety of ways. It may sound counterintuitive to some people who may believe that pets spread allergies, but that isn’t entirely true. Let’s look at how our marvelous fur babies can keep us healthier and happier.
Pets Make You Stay Active
If you are a dog-parent, you will have to take your pooch to the park or walk him in the neighborhood. No matter how lazy you want to be, you would have to stay active for your fur-baby. It will help you achieve the recommended level of physical activity thereby strengthening the muscles and boosting fitness. Research shows that people who keep dogs are motivated for walking as they consider it as a responsibility for their pup and thus stay more active than non-dog owners.
Pets May Help You Live Longer
Now this one may seem like an exaggeration, but various studies support the claim. According to different findings, pets help lower cholesterol and blood pressure. This combined with higher physical activity reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Research conducted in Sweden identified the people who had no history of cardiovascular diseases. After tracing health records and registries, they found out that the ones who were dog-owners had a lower risk of death due to heart-related illnesses. Even people who have survived a heart attack but have pets live longer than the non-dog owners that have suffered a similar condition.
Pets Make You Happier
All sorts of pets are a source of happiness whether it is a dog, cat, a bird or any other kind. Studies reveal that petting your cat or dog can stimulate the production of the happiness or love hormones such as oxytocin, serotonin, and prolactin. The best part about animals is that they don’t judge us, love us unconditionally, and that helps boost our self-esteem. Their cute antics can bring a smile to your face after a stressed-out day.
They Lower Stress
Pet-owners are known to have reduced stress due to higher production of the feel-good hormones and lower cortisol levels. Pets are instant mood boosters and cling to you to gain your attention. When you are with your pet, you live in the moment and forget all the worries of life. You can share your problems with them, rant about how unfair life has been and cry it all out without the fear of being judged or having to explain yourself. They are the best listeners whose wagging tails, grunts, and purrs make you feel loved and relaxed.
Pets Spread Positivity
Having a pet teaches you valuable life skills. People who become pet-parents develop higher compassion and children who grow up with pets learn empathy and kindness. Their loyalty and selflessness can help us become compassionate human beings.
They Improve Your Social Lives
Pets are an excellent source of interacting with new people. If you are walking your dog down the block or playing at the park, people may approach you asking to pet your pup and initiate a conversation. Pet parents feel more at ease in social gatherings and can easily connect with others. Pets also play a significant role in improving family relationships whether it is between spouses, partners or siblings.
Pets Prevent Children from Allergies
Popular opinion is that pets spread diseases like asthma and various allergies. Well, contrary to the belief children that grow up with a pet in the house, are less prone to several allergies, as long as they are about six months or less when exposed to pets. Babies who are exposed to pups in the first year develop fewer colds and flu as compared to those in households with no pets.
They Help with Depression
Pets can reduce the feelings of loneliness and isolation. Research indicates that animals especially dogs promote psychological well-being. They help you forget the negativity in your life, and the companionship makes you feel loved and appreciated. Service dogs can be taught to help their owners fight depression and anxiety. Pets also play a significant role in boosting self-esteem since they depend upon us for fulfilling their needs. It gives their humans a sense of satisfaction and purpose in life. Pets also motivate you to have a structure in life which in turn helps promote mental well-being.
They Boost Productivity
Pets can help improve performance at work by reducing stress and making you happier. Depression and anxiety are a common cause of absenteeism in the workplace. With dogs present around the owners at work, absenteeism may reduce according to research. Pet-owners also exclaim that their furry babies help them achieve job satisfaction and also affect their performance in a positive manner.
Pets Can Help Us Heal
Petting your cat or dog increases the levels of endorphins and may help reduce pain. People who suffer chronic pains but have animals around report, that their responsibilities towards their pets motivate them to get up each day. Pets such as service dogs can be trained to look after their humans. They can also provide support to children with autism or ADHD.
Although our furry companions are a blessing, bringing them into our lives means taking up a great deal of responsibility. So before you decide on getting a pet, make sure that you will be able to give them the affection and time they deserve. If you are already a pet-parent, then enjoy and cherish these moments with your babies. Make sure you do your utmost best for your dog, from getting the healthy dog food for your furry companion to paying attention to his health. All our pets deserve the same because they love us selflessly.
Jenny Perkins is an Animal Behavior Specialist and a passionate writer. She loves to write about the nutrition, health, and care of dogs. She aims at providing tips to dog owners that can help them become better pet parents. She writes for the blog Here Pup.