Sixty-four percent of Americans share their homes with a pet – that’s nearly 164 million cats and dogs! What’s more is that 95% of pet owners consider their companions members of their family. But what many pet owners don’t know is that your pet makes your healthier! Did you know that your furry family members boosts your health and help you heal?! There are a number of scientific studies have shown just that. Want to know how your pet improves your health? Read on.
Puppy breath + furry couch snuggles = healthier you!
Lower Stress Levels
In one study, participants were asked to pet either a rabbit, a turtle, or a toy animal. While the toys had no effect on stress levels, petting the animals did – and it didn’t matter if they were fluffy or hard-shelled. What’s more is that the stress-relieving effects were the same whether the person identified as an ‘animal-lover’ or not.
Lower Blood Pressure
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pet ownership can lower blood pressure, especially in high-risk situations. “If you have a dog around, your blood pressure is lower,” says Marty Becker, DVM, veterinary consultant for Good Morning America. “A lot of it goes back to reducing stress: You might lose your job, your house, your 401(k)—but you’ll never lose the unconditional love of your pet.”
Another heart-healthy reason to own an animal are the significantly lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels of pet owners, a factor that’s especially prevalent in men. While it’s clear that there’s a correlation between these markers and pet ownership, scientists aren’t sure yet if it’s caused by animal interaction or the increased activity levels of the pet owners. So, to be healthier and make sure you get these benefits, walk your dog regularly!
Prevents Strokes & Heart Disease
Now guess what these benefits lead to? That’s right – stroke and heart disease prevention. Not only do these lower markers look good on your heart-health report card, but they can help you avoid some of the most dangerous and preventable diseases affecting Americans today, which include coronary heart disease, hypertension, and stroke – the top causes of death in the United States.
In addition to physical health benefits, pet ownership also provides a number of advantages to your mental health and not only can animal interaction improve your mood, it can also relieve the symptoms of depression. And you don’t need a high-maintenance puppy to make you healthier. When a group of elderly patients were given crickets to look after, their depression lessened within eight weeks. It seems to be the act of caring for another living creature that makes the difference.
Assist With Addiction Recovery
Not only do animals help those in addiction recovery by reducing stress and tension, which can be soothing to those with traumatic backgrounds or feel shame surrounding their substance abuse, owning an animal can also distract those in addiction recovery from cravings and triggers. A pet also provides new leisure activities like going on walks, to the lake to play, or to a local dog park. These outings are can be an opportunity to meet new people, as pets are commonly used to break the ice – in both therapy and social situations.
Given all the proven health benefits of owning an animal, it’s no wonder that one in three Americans has a pet. They love us unconditionally, are happy to see us on our worst days, and give us an opportunity to care for someone other than ourselves. So while you feel like you’re doing something good by adopting a pet, it may be your pet who’s doing the good, for you and your health.