5 Health Benefits of Pet Ownership
Pet owners vary not only in their pet of choice (dog or cat, canary or goldfish) but also in their reasons for owning a pet. Some of us may pick a pet that is perfect for running along the beach, while others want a couch potato soulmate. No matter our differences, one thing remains true for all pet owners: the health benefits.
Here are 5 ways that pets make our lives healthier (and better!) just by being there for us:
1. Your mood
Spending just 30 minutes with your dog can trigger your brain to release chemicals linked to happiness. And your pooch gets the same feel-good benefits.
Cat owners can be less lonely and have higher morale than those who don’t have a cat – likely because cuddling with an animal can unleash oxytocin, the body’s “love” hormone.
Being with a dog for five minutes can lower your levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. The effect is so pronounced that, in one study, frazzled people said they felt it was more relaxing to be around their pets than their spouses!
This even works at the office: Research found that people who brought their dogs to work had lower stress levels throughout the day (meanwhile, levels rose among their canine-less colleagues).
Research suggests that spending time with animal pals may help ease your pain.
Believe it or not, pets can be the best medicine, especially when a person is dealing with chronic pain like migraines or arthritis. Just like Valium, it reduces anxiety; the less anxiety, the less pain.
4. Lower cholesterol
People who own pets – and men, in particular – have significantly lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels than those who don’t have pets. However, it is not clear whether the pet’s presence decreases cholesterol, or if those who maintain a healthier lifestyle are more often pet owners.
Active dogs need activity. So it’s no surprise that dog owners are more likely to be in better shape than those without dogs. They are also more likely to get the vigorous workouts their body needs.
Also, walking with a dog — versus walking alone — has been linked to more social interactions, such as conversations with other dog owners.
5. Your Heart
Petting an animal – or even watching fish swim around in a tank – can lower your heart rate and blood pressure. A study found that dog owners were nine times more likely to be alive one year after a heart attack than those without dogs.
One study found cat owners were less likely to die from heart disease than those who live without cats. Another study found that dog owners were nine times more likely to be alive one year after a heart attack than those without dogs.
Do you think your pets make your life better?
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