6 Ways Owning A Pet Can Transform Your Health

Humans, like most animals, are social beings who yearn for love, affection, and companionship. Pets, such as dogs and cats, offer their owners an unbreakable bond and a unique form of love. Beyond their unwavering loyalty, these animal companions provide a wealth of additional benefits. Let’s delve into the health advantages of owning a pet and the emotional connection that makes it all the more rewarding.

1. Encourages Exercise

Pets aren’t just house companions — they could be your workout buddy, too. Pet owners who stay active with their furry friends have a lower risk of obesity and lower cholesterol levels. You can walk around the neighborhood or hike to explore nature together. You can also engage in more exciting physical activities, like adding your pet to your yoga session. For instance, you can try ‘doga,’ a form of yoga where your dog can participate in the poses with you.

An animal’s exercise needs depend on size, type, and breed. For instance, a pup or an active kitten may require play and exercise daily to release their energy.

2. Decreases Stress Levels 

Your pet is a source of pure joy. Whether watching your pet fish gracefully swim inside the aquarium or cuddling with your dog, these simple acts can decrease your heart rate and blood pressure, promoting a sense of calm. Pets have the power to uplift your mood, and even a single glance into their loving eyes can instantly trigger the release of oxytocin, the so-called “love hormone.”

Spending time with your pet whenever you feel tired from work or sad can relieve stress and reduce the likelihood of engaging in unhealthy coping mechanisms.

3. Boosts Social Connection

The best thing about owning a pet is its ability to improve many aspects of your life, including your social life. Pets can be good ice-breakers, making it easy for you to start conversations. For instance, walking your dog in the park may result in countless approaches by strangers who stop to adore your pet and exchange pleasant conversation.

4. Reduces Loneliness

A pet’s presence is more than just a companion. It’s a source of unconditional love and security, helping to alleviate feelings of loneliness and social isolation. Whether it’s cuddling, playing, or simply observing them, these interactions can significantly improve your mood and provide a sense of safety whenever you feel bored or anxious. 

Because of this, pet ownership is beneficial for older adults who struggle with isolation. Aside from promoting an active lifestyle and reducing stress, pets can assist in treating dementia and other long-term diseases. For instance, studies have shown that petting a dog can lower blood pressure and heart rate, benefiting those with hypertension.  Since around 77% of adults 50 and older wish to remain in their homes for long-term care, having a pet can positively impact their physical and mental wellness.

5. Promotes Mindfulness

Animals help you to be more present and live in the moment. Watch your hamster run its wheel, or take a cue from your dog and stop to smell the flowers in your garden. Even the act of observing your pet can release you from negative thoughts. The next time you feel overwhelmed, pause and spend time with your pet. Doing so will automatically slow your breathing and calm your nerves.

6. Helps Manage Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Pets, especially service dogs, are often recommended for veterans with PTSD because they can significantly help with their recovery journey. These trained canines assist their owners with medical conditions in their everyday activities. For instance, a guide dog can assist a blind person in navigating the streets.

Pets are more than an addition to your household — they bring significant health benefits to your life. Like humans, your animal companion needs love, food, and health care. It’s important to note that pet ownership also comes with responsibilities and challenges. For instance, some pets may require more time and attention than others, and there may be additional costs for food, grooming, and veterinary care. They enrich your life in countless ways, so remember to take good care of them.

Featured image via Yaroslav Shuraev on Pexels



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