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10 Reasons Pets Are Good For Your Health

Source: BrightVibes

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.

10 Reasons Pets Are Good For Your Health The top 10 ways a pet can benefit your personal health and well-being. Source: Facebook/BrightVibes

Pets or paramedics?

1. CompanionshipFor 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.

2. Walking your pet. Dog walking is an excellent preventative measure against heart disease. A low-risk and low-intensity exercise, it can keep your waistline trim as well as help you soak up some vitamin D.  Researchers at the University of Sydney found coronary heart disease could have been prevented among the 9% of dog owners who currently have the condition, if they walked their pets more. A minimum of 150 minutes a week is recommended for dog owners to reduce the risk of heart disease.

3. Pet your animal. The act of petting can relax and reduce stress levels due to the body’s release of oxytocin, a hormone linked to emotional bonding. Both owner and pet release oxytocin, which stabilises a sense of calmness between the two. "The simple act of petting an animal is known to cause a person’s blood pressure to drop," said Alan Beck, ScD, director of the Center for the Human-Animal Bond at Purdue University. Beck believes that the animal’s heart rate slows down and blood pressure drops as does the owner’s.

Human-animal relationships are pivotal in society as they encourage a level of intimacy, nurturance, and connection with nature.
Our domestic pets are a connection to nature Human-animal relationships are pivotal in society as they encourage a level of intimacy, nurturance, and connection with nature. Source: Pixabay/

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 JournalAnother 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.

Source: MedicalDaily.com

Pets can help teach those with learning difficulties or autism to engage and interact with the outside world. After forming a bond with a pet, parents found that their child began engaging and displaying levels of emotion not previously experienced.
Pets can help with conditions like ADHD and autism Pets can help teach those with learning difficulties or autism to engage and interact with the outside world. After forming a bond with a pet, parents found that their child began engaging and displaying levels of emotion not previously experienced. Source: Pixabay/Westfale

The wide ranging benefits of pet ownership are still being discovered

7. Fewer AllergiesExposure 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.

8. Combat diabetesPeople who live with diabetes can experience a drop in the level of glucose in their blood, leading to series health complications. There are dogs, however, that can pick up on the scent of chemical changes that the human body experiences moments before that occurs. Dogs4Diabetics is an organisation that trains dogs to respond to serious blood glucose drops in the human body. Approximately one in three dogs who live with people with this medical condition have the ability to recognise these dangerously low levels.

9. Helping a healthy heart. Owning a pet can help promote a healthy heart. It will keep your blood pressure in check, lower your cholesterol, and reduce the risk of cardiac disease and heart failure. In one study, 240 married couples who were pet owners had lower blood pressure and lower heart rates compared to couples who were not pet owners. Over the course of 20 years, another study by researchers at the University of Minnesota’s Stroke Research Center found that 40% of people who never owned a cat were 40% more likely to die of a heart attack than those who did.

10. Can help with conditions like ADHD and autism. Pets can also help teach those with learning difficulties or autism to engage and interact with the outside world. After forming a bond with a pet, parents found that their child began engaging and displaying levels of emotion not previously experienced.

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.

Source: MedicalDaily.com

Walking the dog gets you some fresh air, gentle exercise and the opportunity to socialise.
For older or single people daily dog-walking gets them out of the house Walking the dog gets you some fresh air, gentle exercise and the opportunity to socialise. Source: Pixabay/Kaz
Make an Impact

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