Man’s best friend is not only a great companion — having a pet actually has many health benefits, including mental, emotional, and physical. Whether you already have an animal companion in your life or are still searching for the perfect pet for your family, here are just some of the amazing health benefits of owning a pet.
How Owning a Pet Benefits Your Mental Health
Studies have shown that owning a pet helps reduce stress and decrease anxiety levels in their owners. Additionally, research has found that children who care for an animal grow up feeling more secure and active than their peers without pets.
Not only does owning a pet help reduce anxiety levels, but it also helps lower the severity and frequency of depression. People with animal companions have lower rates of depression compared to non-pet owners, thanks in part to the increased sense of psychological and emotional well-being that a companion animal provides.
How Owning a Pet Benefits Your Emotional Health
Owning a pet can also benefit your emotional health by increasing the number of human companions in your life as well. Researchers at Harvard University found that having a pet, “can also help create human-to-human friendships and social support, both of which are good for long-term health.” The social nature of owning a pet like a dog means that you’re getting out more frequently, and have something to make small talk over with those in your community.
Research in the Journal of Business Research found that animals provide, “One highly reliable association in a person's life,” which is often, “More consistent and reliable than human–human.” This consistency can help to give your life a sense of purpose, especially for the elderly and those dealing with mental health issues.
Finally, owning a pet means that no matter what challenges life throws your way, you’re never alone. Pets might not understand our words, but animals are very adept at pickup up on non-verbal cues such as body language, and so if you’re feeling sad, your pet is likely to pick up on your emotions and offer comfort. On the flip side — you’ll also have someone to celebrate with when times are good!
How Owning a Pet Benefits Your Physical Health
Owning a pet benefits your physical health in a number of ways. First, having a pet increases your daily activity levels — especially for canine owners, who must give their pet multiple daily walks in order to meet their exercise and elimination needs.
Research published in the journal BMC Public Health found that dog owners walk 22 minutes more per day than non-dog owners. All these extra steps quickly and easily contribute to the 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week recommended for most adults.
Other physical health benefits of pet ownership include positive effects to one’s heart health, through lowered blood pressure levels and lowered cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
If you’ve got babies on the brain but allergies run in your family, you might want to get a pet. Research has shown that, “the more cats or dogs you live with as an infant, the lower your chance of developing asthma, hay fever, or eczema.”And finally, whether you deal with chronic or acute discomfort, having an animal can help decrease your experience of pain. A study conducted by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found dog owners with chronic joint pain experienced a reduction in both the perception of pain and pain-induc