Health Benefits of Owning a Pet

7 Ways Your Life is Enriched by Owning a Pet

health benefits of owning a pet

If you’re one of the millions of families across America that owns a pet, you will already know the value that having a furry friends brings!

Research has shown that there’s a multitude of benefits to pet ownership.

Here we look at some of the science behind owning a pet.

  1. It’s good for your heart. Extensive research shows that owning a pet can be good for your heart. This was confirmed by the American Heart Association, who said: “Pet ownership, particularly dog ownership, is probably associated with a decreased risk of heart disease." This also extends to lower cholesterol and blood pressure. This may be in part due to pet owners being more healthier types, or due to the calming qualities they bring, or more likely because being a dog owner especially, means you undertake more physical activity. And it’s not just dogs, some experts believe that having a cat reduces your chances of a heart attack by 30 per cent too.
  2. It’s good for sociability. Owning certain pets, such as dogs and horses, means that you are more likely to come into contact with other owners. This is great for those who like to mix with people and make new friends. On the other side of the spectrum, many pets have been found to provide companionship to those who need it most; the elderly or unwell. The AVMA estimate that millions of homes are enriched thanks to having animals for companionship, namely in the forms of dogs and cats.
  3. They bring zen! Pets have long been associated with bringing a zen-like quality! This is because they are a listening ear, and always provide unconditional love. The serenity that comes with stroking a hamster, the love that comes from cuddling your dog, or the tranquility associated with watching a fish tank are all positive effects on our calming levels.
  4. They can help with pain. A study from Loyola University discovered that post-surgery, people with pets needed much less pain medication than those without them. This is the reason why you might see certain ‘therapy pets’ in hospitals and children’s hospitals. The researcher added: "Evidence suggests that animal-assisted therapy can have a positive effect on a patient's psycho-social, emotional and physical well being."
  5. Boost children’s immunity (and emotional intelligence). Children who grow up around pets tend to have higher immunity levels. Research has also shown that kids who have dogs are also less likely to have allergies and less likely to suffer from asthma, than those who do not own them. And if that wasn’t a good enough reason to get down to the local pet store, studies show that children who have pets, also have a higher emotional intelligence, along with greater appreciation for the understanding of a life cycle.
  6. Better Fitness Levels. We all know that we should be aiming for 10,000 steps a day, but sometimes a pet gives us that added incentive. Dogs especially force us to get up and get out every day, and as a result, it can have a positive effect on our physical and mental well-being. Over a third of pet owners found that having a pet helped them lose weight.
  7. Mood Boosting. Ahh, back to that unconditional love again. It shouldn’t be overlooked that the value of having a pet can boost your mood. The simple process of stroking, hugging or petting your animal in itself can help with depression, stress and anxiety. But even on a day-t0-day basis, it’s a great leveler. Studies have found that dog owners are less likely to suffer from depression than those without pets, and that playing with a dog can in fact elevate levels of dopamine and serotonin, as a calming presence.