There’s nothing like coming home to a loving four-legged friend after a long, hard day, and no one understands that better than a pet parent. A ball of fur that jumps out at you as soon as you walk in the door can take your mind off your worries and stress, can’t it? Ah, and not just stress and worries, pets offer a myriad of other health benefits for humans. In this article, we’ll talk about the health benefits of having a pet.
How pets can improve your health
Most people are aware of the happiness and joys that pets bring to our lives, but not everyone is aware of their health benefits. Research has proven that owning a pet can do wonders for improving your physical and mental health.
Benefits of pets on your physical health:
- People who have pets are less likely to have high blood pressure, as pets help maintain systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
- Pets help reduce triglyceride and cholesterol levels and therefore help prevent heart disease.
- Having a pet can reduce the risk of stroke and heart attack.
- Pets also encourage exercise and help you stay fit to prevent obesity, and therefore obesity-related disorders.
- People who have a pet at home have stronger immunity than those who do not.
- Therapy pets help with pain management and recovery of critically ill patients in the hospital.
- Owning a dog reduces the risk of premature death by up to 70%.
- Most people are found to make lifestyle changes after adopting a pet.
Benefits of pets on your mental health:
- Pets keep stress, anxiety, and depression at bay.
- Spending time with pets can increase dopamine and serotonin transmitters, which are known to have calming and pleasant properties.
- According to research, interaction with dogs stimulates a “love hormone” called oxytocin. Oxytocin is a feel-good hormone responsible for social bonding, which improves our psychological well-being as we become more social.
- Humans have a basic need for touch and a pet can fulfill this need daily. Snuggling, cuddling, and touching your furry friend every day can make them feel needed and wanted.
- Most large dogs need a good amount of exercise, and these active dogs keep you moving, as you need to take them out for walks, exercises, and hikes. These exercises greatly improve your mood.
- Having a pet encourages you to live a healthy lifestyle, which helps reduce symptoms of depression, bipolar disorder, and other mental disorders.
- Therapy dogs can improve the mental well-being of people undergoing cancer therapy or suffering from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
- Having a pet at home can ease loneliness, especially if you live alone (and oh, they can help you date, too!).
“All types of pets are equally beneficial to health.”
Pets, especially dogs and cats, can help people live happier, healthier lives with their charming and loving personalities. But don’t forget that any pet can also be beneficial to your health. A rabbit could be an ideal pet for you if you have limited space, while birds can keep your home environment lively. Watching an aquarium full of fish can help sharpen your focus and lower your pulse, while horses, snakes, lizards, and other exotic reptiles are luxury pets.
The benefits of pets for seniors
Getting older can lead to loneliness. Family and friends move away, and the problems associated with old age begin to manifest themselves. It becomes difficult to get out often, and the feeling of being cooped up at home develops. That’s when our guardian angels come to the rescue. Pets are the most reliable source of comfort and companionship and can benefit seniors in countless ways.
- According to a survey, 65% of seniors do not feel depressed or lonely when they are with a pet, as the pet provides a lot of company.
- Most seniors are reluctant to exercise and go out for walks because of their health issues, but having a pet encourages them to get their furry companions out, which ultimately helps them stay active.
- Seniors enjoy caring for their children and grandchildren, but time flies and they end up alone. Taking care of a pet can be very satisfying and can help recapture that feeling of affection.
- According to research, interaction with pets can reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Low cortisol levels are associated with low blood pressure and can help relieve stress.
- Seniors with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia suffer fewer anxiety attacks, agitation, and behavioral problems when they are with pets.
What pets are best for seniors?
While the pet that best fits an older person’s personality is the best for them, the following questions should be asked before giving a pet to an older person.
- What is the senior’s living situation? Independent or assisted living?
- What are the financial requirements? Are there any financial limitations?
- Is the senior active? Does his or her activity level match that of the pet?
Regardless of the type of pet a senior can accommodate and afford, the benefits to the owner’s physical and mental well-being are numerous and far transcend the effort required to care for it. Also, if you are looking for a pet for a senior citizen, don’t overlook senior pets, as these animals have already left behind their hyperactive and destructive phase and are much calmer and more laid back, making them the best option to consider.
Benefits of pets for children
Just like adults, children benefit from having a pet in many ways. Children who grow up in a home with a pet become safer, more active, and more empathetic. According to research, pet-owning parents can raise emotionally intelligent children compared to parents who don’t have pets. Here are a few more reasons why you should bring a pet home for your child.
- Children who grow up with pets are less likely to develop allergies and asthma.
- Feeding and caring for a pet teaches children to be responsible.
- Having a loyal and loving pet can make a child feel important and help them develop a positive image.
- Children become emotionally attached to their pets, which helps them build better relationships in the future.
- Pets can help calm aggressive and hyperactive children.
- Children with pets get out more often daily (walks, errands). This has many health benefits and keeps children fit.
- Pets teach children important life lessons, including reproduction, birth, illness, accidents, death, and grief.
- Having a pet in the home can help children cope with separation anxiety, especially for working parents.
- Pets can help children with learning disabilities learn to manage tension and calm down, allowing them to better cope with the challenges of their disorder.
- Children with autism and other cognitive disorders may do better with pets because they communicate through nonverbal cues.
- Research shows that children whose mothers spent time with dogs during pregnancy are less likely to develop eczema.
What pets are best for children?
While there is no golden rule when it comes to choosing a pet for your child, you should consider the following questions before you embark on introducing a new pet into your home.
- Will you be able to devote enough time to your child and the pet?
- What are your financial conditions?
- Does your child show a genuine interest in adopting a pet?
Pet ownership can be a chance for children to learn responsibility, reliability, friendship, love, and other valuable life lessons that are important to living a meaningful life.
Benefits of pets for people with disabilities
Service and assistance animals are a godsend for people with disabilities. They can provide much more help than you might have imagined. These service animals are extensively trained to help people with disabilities live better lives.
Which pets are best for people with disabilities?
Dogs that have a keen sense of hearing can help people who are deceased or have a hearing disability. Hearing dogs are well trained to identify the sounds of family members, telephone rings, doorbells, smoke detectors, alarm clocks, etc. to guide their owners. They can even lead you to the source of the sounds.
Guide animals are an excellent form of support for people who are blind or partially blind. They can guide their owners on their way home or to work, save them from potential dangers and safely assist them in their daily activities.
Service animals can help people with autism, mental illness, or other physical disabilities with their daily lives. These animals can help with everyday tasks, such as opening and closing doors or fetching medications. They can even help their owners by making sounds or informing others in case of an emergency, such as a seizure or injury.
Adopting a pet is a lifelong commitment – check to see if you’re ready for it:
After going through all the benefits our pets can offer, it’s easy to get carried away with the idea of owning one. However, it is imperative to understand that adopting a pet is a major commitment.
If you don’t like animals, simply owning one will not miraculously solve your health problems. Having a pet will only be rewarding and reassuring for those who love and appreciate animals and can invest time, money, and emotions in keeping their pet happy and healthy.
And, even if you are a “pet person,” it is essential to consider the responsibilities that come with it. Consider the following points when thinking about adopting a pet.
- Are you willing to spend enough money?
Owning a pet will regularly cost you food, veterinary care, vaccines, maintenance fees, licenses, grooming, essential pet care products, etc. If your income is limited, these expenses can be costly.
- Can you devote enough time and attention to your pet?
Pets require a lot of attention and care. You can’t just bring one home and leave it alone. To keep pets calm, happy, and healthy, it is essential to give them plenty of time and attention.
- Is your home stable?
Do you plan to move to another state or country in a year or two? Or in the next five years? Would you be able to take your pet with you? Owning a pet is a lifelong responsibility, so you should consider these questions before getting one.
- Can you take care of a pet daily?
As mentioned earlier, you need to dedicate enough time in your daily life to properly care for a pet. If you are working, it will be difficult for you to take care of feeding and exercising your pet. You should only own a pet if you or someone else can care for it, or if the pet has conditions such as depression or obesity.
- Does its personality match your lifestyle?
Your pet should fit your personality and lifestyle. If you’re an avid traveler and spend most of your time hiking and traveling, a Chihuahua or rabbit may not be able to accompany you. On the other hand, active, energetic dogs like Rottweilers or German Shepherds won’t do well if you live in a small studio.
- Will you deal with your pet’s behavioral problems?
All pets tend to have behavioral problems at some point in their lives, so it’s crucial to consider whether you can handle them. Your puppy may end up chewing on your brand new Gucci bag, or your cat may ruin your couch by peeing outside the litter box. Ask yourself if you can let go if your pet is overwhelming you with behavioral problems.
Before you rush into adoption, ask yourself these questions. You won’t be ready to welcome a new furry friend into your home until your answers are affirmative!
Not ready to own a pet yet? Here’s what you can do…
If you don’t think you’re ready to commit to this lifelong responsibility, there are still ways to enrich your life with pets and take advantage of their benefits to improve your health and happiness.
If you want to be around animals, you can spend one day a week at a shelter or volunteer with animal rescue organizations. Most shelters welcome volunteers to help them care for rescued animals. You can also sign up to volunteer at animal adoption events hosted by these organizations. You can also ask to walk your neighbor’s dog or feed your friend’s cat from time to time.
Fostering a homeless animal until it finds a permanent home is also a good way to keep an animal for a few days without making a major commitment. You can also agree to keep your friend’s pet when they are out of town!
This way, you’ll not only get to spend time with animals, but you’ll also be helping yourself by reaping the benefits!