Why Owning a Pet is Good for Your Health

The bond between pet and pet parent is undoubtedly strong, but studies show that pets provide humans with more than just companionship – they offer many mental and physical benefits, as well. In fact, with over 200 million pets in the United States alone, it’s safe to say that our furry friends boost our overall health and well-being. We’ve included the six ways that owning a pet is good for your health.

Increased Physical Fitness

Whether its frequent trips outside or physical activity to keep your furbaby in shape, pets – particularly dogs – increase physical activity. Owning an active pet helps promote and sustain regular physical activity. Exercising with your pet is free – no gym membership needed.

Stress Relief

Studies show that pet owners experience less stress than individuals who don’t own pets. Spending time with your furbaby releases calming endorphins, also known as oxytocin. In fact, people who use pet therapy while recovering from surgery require less pain management than those that don’t.

Heart Health

Pets have the ability to lengthen your life considerably. Pet parents face a lower risk of developing heart disease. Owning a pet can decrease cholesterol, blood pressure, and triglycerides, all of which are contributing factors in a heart attack. Cat owners are 30% less likely to have a heart attack and 40% less likely to have a stroke.

Mental Health Benefits

Pets provide companionship, which can combat feelings of loneliness and depression, particularly in those who are elderly or sick. Veterans and people dealing with PTSD have been found to have improved health and mood outcomes when adding a pet or service animal to their lives. Owning a pet also improves socialization. Whether physically engaging with others or starting a conversation about your pet, pets help us connect with others. In fact, people who have pets are perceived as “friendlier” than those without pets.

Allergy Improvement and Prevention

It’s believed that pet hair and dander might serve as a natural immunotherapy for children and babies. That means a stronger immune system and possibly allergy reduction. In fact, having a pet in the home can decrease a child’s chance of developing allergies by 33%.

Discipline and Childhood Development

Pets have proven to be beneficial to children and teens by providing schedule responsibility, as well as strengthening emotional development. Children and teens with developmental challenges benefit greatly from owning a pet. Children diagnosed with ADHD have been known to focus more when they engage in a predictable routine, which pets provide. For children with autism, the sensory experience of petting an animal can be comforting. Owning a pet can also strengthen a child’s social skills, leading to an all-together more positive well-being.