Health Benefits of Having a Pet

There are many ways in which pets make our lives better.

By November 20 | See Comments

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Health Benefits of Having a Pet

There are many ways in which pets make our lives better. Read on to find out about the several physical, emotional, and psychological benefits associated with owning a pet.

Pet owners know how wonderfully one's life changes because of a pet. Not only do they serve as lifelong companions, winning us over with their cuddly and furry selves, but they also bring about several emotional and physical benefits. It's been scientifically proven that having a pet significantly improves your health by lowering your stress, anger, and depression levels. The prevailing theory states that having a pet around aids in boosting the degree of oxytocin in your body. Oxytocin is also known as the 'cuddle chemical' or 'bonding hormone’, and it helps in decreasing your heart rate and blood pressure, improving your social skills, boosting immunity, and also raising your tolerance for pain!

Why Having a Pet is Great for Your Health

There are many ways in which pets make our lives better. Read on to find out about the several physical, emotional, and psychological benefits associated with owning a pet.

1. Pets Make You Fitter

If you love taking your dog out on walks, the chances are that you're naturally fitter than the rest of your friends and acquaintances who don't. Studies have found that in a survey conducted among 2000 adults, regular dog walkers were seen getting more exercise than the non-dog walkers, and were also far less likely to be obese. Another study showed that dog-walking helps the elderly as well because the older people who walk their dogs tend to walk longer and faster in comparison to the ones who haven't done that in their lives.

2. Pets Improve Immunity and Decrease Allergies

One might think that having pets around can cause allergies, but it's the opposite. Living with a pet, such as a cat or a dog, during the initial years of your life not only prevents you from having allergies during your childhood and after that but also decreases the risk of asthma. A study also found that newborns living with cats were at a lower risk of pneumonia, bronchiolitis, and childhood asthma.

Having pets is also great for your immune system. It has been proven that even a little encounter with a pet can trigger your disease-defence system. A study demonstrated that if you pet a dog for just 18 minutes, it will raise the immunoglobulin A (IgA) levels in your saliva, which is a sign of healthy immunity. Being exposed to animal bacteria alters the bacteria in the guts of a human being in a manner such that it improves their mood and mental health.

3. Pets Reduce Stress Levels

The modern lifestyle and work pressure we face today induce a lot of stress. Almost every other person you meet is overstressed and overworked. When you experience stress, your body goes into fight-or-flight mode, causing an increase in heart rate while pumping blood at a faster pace. While the peaceful lifestyle of the yesteryears could have allowed one to dismiss this reaction, you can't afford to do so in the current era.

These changes negatively affect our bodies, increasing the risk of heart diseases and other severe conditions. Pets help in counteracting this stress by lowering your heart rate to bring it down to a healthy level. They help fight fear, anxiety, and also bring about a state of calmness. Dogs can also help the elderly feel less stressed and lonely and are also known to reduce pre-exam stress level among college students.

4. Pets Enhance Your Heart Rate

Pets fill our hearts with so much love, warmth, and affection; which is why it isn’t surprising that having them around improves your cardiovascular health as well. Studies have shown that those who own a dog are at a lower risk of heart diseases, which also includes controlled cholesterol and lower blood pressure. A study conducted over ten years also showed that former and current cat owners were 30% less likely to die of cardiovascular issues and were at 40% lesser risk of suffering a heart attack. Better diet structure and improved blood sugar levels have been found in pet owners.

5. Pets Help Patients with Alzheimer's

Those suffering from Alzheimer's and other kinds of life-altering dementia can experience a lot of comfort and social bonding by interacting with pets. The patients with dementia who stay at home are often given canine caregivers to assist them with little things such as guiding them back home, providing reminders to eat, and fetching their medicine. Animal visits are provided as therapy, too, in several medical facilities to support the patients. Behavioural issues are known to significantly reduce with the presence of pets, as they improve their mood and increase their intake of nutrition.

6. Pets Aid in Defeating PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is usually seen in those who have survived assault, natural disasters, and combat. Studies have shown that unconditional love from pets can cause an increase in oxytocin levels among these survivors, thereby remedying outbursts, emotional numbness, and even flashbacks. Many recovery programs these days tend to pair up veterans suffering from PTSD with dogs and cats who are specially trained to provide comfort to such patients.

7. Pets Assist Kids with Autism

Autism/Autism Spectrum Disorder/ASD can be found in 1 out of every 70 kids in America. This condition makes it difficult for kids or people who have them to interact with others socially. However, animals are known to make it easier for autistic kids to become more social beings and communicate with people their age and beyond as well. Guinea pigs have been proven to help autistic kids in being happier and more vocal. Plenty of animal-assisted therapy programs now exist concerning ASD that feature several animals, ranging from horses and dolphins to dogs and alpacas. 

Summing Up

Who doesn't like being in the presence of a pet, right? It's like having the best kind of companion to come back to who are just forever ready to shower you with selfless love. In addition to always being up for walks and play sessions, the degree of health benefits associated with owning a pet is too tremendous not to be applauded. So if you're planning on getting a pet soon, leap, because having a furry friend around will improve your physical and mental health ten times over.

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