8 Health Benefits of Having a Pet In Your Home

by | Aug 13, 2019 | Health and Nutrition

We have all been there. You have had a hard day at work, you are in the worst mood, then you walk in the door, only to be met by the wagging tail and joyous yips of man’s best friend.

Just like that, your mood has lifted and all of a sudden you are happier. Well, that is is one of the benefits of having a pet. Here are 8 more ways pets can be good for your health. 

A Way to Improve Heart Health

Studies have shown that dog owners have healthy tickers than non-dog owners. This may be partly because they walk more thanks to Fido and, for some reason, also have lower blood pressure.

However, that isn’t where the heart help stops. These same studies have shown that people with heart conditions or those who have suffered from serious heart attacks who own dogs tend to live longer than those who don’t. 

It isn’t clear why, but the studies are pretty conclusive. Owning a pet, especially a dog, improves your heart health.

Pets Lower Stress:

It turns out petting your dog or cat is beneficial for both of you. Not only does it make them feel loved, as you stroke your pet, you release a relaxation hormone, which in turn lowers your stress. Which is good for your blood pressure.

However, it isn’t just petting them which reduces stress. Even looking at your four-legged friend can lower the stress hormone cortisol. So, keeping them close by can be a great way to de-stress.

Social Creatures:

Think about it. How many times have you interacted with someone who has a dog or commented on a cat photo? It turns out pets make it easier for us to reach out and interact with people when we might not normally.

But it isn’t just verbal interactions that pets help with. People in wheelchairs say they get far more eye contact if they have their dogs with them. And eye contact is one of the easiest and least intrusive ways to connect with a person.

They Get You Active:

Whether it is moving a string for your kitty to play with or taking your doggo for a walk, they help keep you moving. Which is good because doctors recommend 30 minutes of cardio at least three times a week to keep all sorts of health problems at bay.

So, playing with your pet can lower your risk of not just heart issues, as we have discussed, but also type 2 diabetes. And, as we all know, it is easier to get active if you have a companion and is there a better exercise buddy than a pet?

We don’t think so.

They Can Help You Fight Depression:

Being loved and appreciated is one of the major ways to fight depression and no one can make you feel that quite like a pet. That unconditional love pets give you helps you feel more connected and less lonely. Plus, they will listen to you talk for hours as you work through what is bothering you.

Plus, all that exercise and attention you pay looking after them will help keep you active (see a theme here?) and make you feel better about how you are spending your time. On top of that, they can provide a bit of a distraction, giving you a little mood boost.

A Boost for Baby’s Immune System:

There have a number of studies that show babies whose families own pets tend to less likely to develop allergies and asthma later in life. It turns out, being exposed early in life helps to build the immune system, meaning down the road they are able to fight off allergens. Not only that, they are less likely to have eczema and upper respiratory infections.

The earlier you start exposing your baby to pets the better too. Ideally, it should start from birth. However, even if you get your furry friend before your baby is 6 months old, they can still reap the benefits.

Chronic Pain Ease:

People with chronic have reported being less affected by it when they own pets. Petting and spending time with your pet gives you an endorphin boost, which it turns out is a great pain killer.

Pet therapy can also help pain management for a bunch of different things too. For example, people who had joint replacement surgery claimed to need less pain medication when they had pet therapy as opposed to those who didn’t.

Fewer Strokes:

This one is for the cat lovers. Owning a cat has been shown to lower people’s risk of stroke significantly.

While researchers aren’t quite sure why that is, one theory is that cats tend to have a more calming effect than other pets. However, it may also have to do with the personality of people who tend to prefer cats. They are more likely to focus on their cats, thus keeping their mind from other worries.

More Benefits of Having a Pet:

On top of all the health benefits of having a pet mentioned above, probably the most important one is that they tend to be great health monitors. While the reasons why they are so great at knowing when something is wrong aren’t clear, there are a couple of theories.

One has to do with their sensitivity to their owner’s behavior. Pets seem to be able to pick up on the slightest changes to mood. The other may have to do with their sense of smell.

Strangely, some pets are even able to detect seizures and strokes before they happen. So, not only are they able to alert people after an episode, they may help owners get help before something bad happens.

If you want to learn more about the health benefits of owning a pet or just check out other topics on health, check out our blog.