Worried about your health? Get a pet! Pet ownership has been linked to human health benefits like lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and a better sense of well-being.
Why pets are good for your health
Studies show that our furry friends promote positive physical and psychological health in humans. We rounded up the top 10 ways a pet can benefit our personal health and well-being.
Pets or paramedics?
1. Companionship. For those who live alone, the company of pets can help stave off loneliness and encourage feelings of responsibility and maturity in caring for another being. One study suggests that singles are more likely to see their pets as family members because of the amount of support that their companionship provides.
Live longer, socialise more, be in a better mood, all thanks to your pet
4. Boost your mood. Pet ownership can boost self-esteem and self-worth. When you play with your pet you raise levels of serotonin and dopamine and decrease cortisol, according to the British Medical Journal. Another report shows elderly individuals reap the benefits of animal ownership, with 95% reporting they talk to their pet each day. 82% said owning a pet made them feel better when they were sad, 65% said petting or caressing their pet made them feel better, and 57% said they told their fears and worries to their pets.
5. Increased longevity. People with pets live happier, healthier, and longer lives! Research found that patients discharged from a coronary care unit who had pets had a better survival rate for the next year compared to those who didn’t. For those discharged, the thought of having a pet provided comfort, which, results show, could be associated with higher life expectancy.
6. Socialising. Many pet owners love to socialise with other pet owners. Studies have shown that it is easier to meet people if you have a dog. They are seen as social ice-breakers who are used a prop to initiate conversation with others:
Dr. June McNicholas, senior research fellow in the Department of Psychology at the University of Warwick conducted a study to test the social catalyst effect of dogs. McNicholas spent five days with a dog and five days without a dog through her daily routines to record the number of times people, including friends, acquaintances, and strangers, stopped to talk to her. The results showed that the presence of a dog increased social interactions. Only a total number of three strangers spoke to McNicholas when she was alone compared to 65 strangers who approached her when she was accompanied by the dog.
The wide ranging benefits of pet ownership are still being discovered
7. Fewer Allergies. Exposure to a pet in infancy could mean the child is less likely to develop allergies and asthma. This stimulates the immune system to fight off infection at an early age. A study in Finland followed 397 kids from childbirth to age one as the families reported how much contact the infants had with a pet on a weekly basis. The results showed that animal contact at an early age leads to a stronger immune system that combats infectious respiratory illness. Higher levels of specific chemicals in the immune system influences a developed immune system that will keep infants healthier as they get older.
Pets can teach children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to create a schedule and plan ahead. Pets need to be feed, walked, bathed, and groomed, tasks which need to be done on a timely schedule. Dog owners suffering from ADHD will learn to be calm, get exercise, increase social interaction and build up self-confidence.
A study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that exposure to the outdoors could reduce attention deficit symptoms in kids. As a result, a walk in the park with a dog could be a remedy for a child who suffers from ADHD.
10 Things to Consider Before Bringing a New Pet Home
Some of the greatest moments in life include the day we met our pets for the first time, and the day we adopted them and they came home with us. Here are 10 things to consider before bringing a new dog or cat home.