Almost any pet owner will tell you that owning a pet is usually beneficial for your mood, that they make you smile and laugh and generally are just plain good for the “soul”. Interestingly, science may have a little something to add to that. As it turns out there are some real and measurable physical, emotional and mental benefits to pet ownership. Take a look at some of these:
1. Increased physical activity: Many types of pets just lend themselves well to doing things with. Your more “traditional” pets like cats and dogs thrive during play time, but so do many “nontraditional” pets like pigs, goats, sheep, horses, exotic birds and more. Even just having a pet you need to walk for it to use the restroom tends to increase your physical activity levels. If you’d like to take even more advantage of physical activity with your pet, look into things like hiking, swimming, biking, yoga and more. Several animals even have agility and obstacle training that you can participate in with your pet.
- Better Heart Health: Both the CDC and the NIH (National Institute of Health) have done heart-related studies on people who have pets and both have shown some interesting results. Pet owners showed lower blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels than non pet owners did. The research also showed that patients have better recovery rates after heart attack if they have a dog or cat in the home than those patients who do not have a dog or cat to recover with.
- Reduced Allergies in Children: We know it might seem counterintuitive, but several studies have shown that snuggling with a pet might help children keep allergies at bay. In fact, studies have shown that having a pet in the home can lower a childs likelihood of developing related allergies by as much as 33%. In fact, it’s not just allergies that your pet may help your child with. The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology has published several research papers showing that children who are exposed early to animals tend to develop stronger immune systems as they grow up. It has been theorized that pets help expose children to small amounts of a wide variety of potential germs and allergens – enough to teach their body how to deal with them but not enough to make them sick.
- Mental Health Benefit: Pets have long been known to be a great way to help yourself get over a case of the blahs. Once again, science agrees with what people already know on an anecdotal level. They offer a sense of purpose as well as companionship that can absolutely help lift your spirits and level your mood. This effect is particularly evident in children, the elderly, and the sick. This is why several hospitals, hospices, elder-care facilities and child care locations have animal therapy programs. Animals have also been shown to be an effective way to help people progress with social issues, anxiety related conditions, ADD/ADHD, compulsive disorders and more!