The Many Benefits of Pets
If you’ve ever owned a pet you already know how integral they become in your life. But do you know some of the benefits of pet ownership?
- Decrease Stress -studies have found that when conducting a stressful task, people experienced less stress when their pets are with them than when a spouse, family member or close friend was nearby. Just the act of petting a dog can result in the decreased level of the stress hormone cortisol. Interaction with pets also releases the anti-stress, calming hormone oxytocin.
- Lower Blood Pressure -it can be argued that having a pet has the potential to lower blood pressure, especially in hypertensive or high-risk patients. According to the American Heart Association, studies have shown that pet owners have lower blood pressure and smaller increases in heart rate and blood pressure in response to stress, lower resting baseline heart rates and blood pressure, and significantly smaller increases in heart rate and blood pressure in response to stress as well as faster recovery from stress.
- Lower Cholesterol -according to the CDC, another heart-healthy result of owning a pet is 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 isn't clear whether the pet's presence decreases cholesterol, or if those who maintain a healthier lifestyle are more often pet owners.
- Prevents Strokes - although dogs are often touted for their health benefits, cat owners can see gains, too. Felines are just as beneficial to your health as dogs. If you have a cat, you're 30 percent less likely to have a heart attack, and you're 40 percent less likely to have a cardiovascular incident like a stroke. In addition, pets can aid in the recovery of a heart attack. If you have a heart attack and you have a dog, you are significantly more likely to be alive a year later.
- Eases Pain - believe it or not, pets can be the best medicine, especially when a person is dealing with chronic pain such as migraines or arthritis. Just like Valium, it reduces anxiety. The less anxiety, the less pain. One study from Loyola University found that people who use pet therapy while recovering from surgery may need significantly less pain medication than those who do not.
- Socialization - it’s vitally important as we age that we stay as physically active as possible. Getting your dog (and yourself) in the habit of taking a walk at least once a day not only checks the get active box, but it also gives you ample opportunities to socialize. People love to stop and talk to you about your dog (and theirs!). These conversations often lead to not only friendships but also a better understanding of your neighborhood community.
There are many more benefits of pet ownership, but you get the idea. So, ignore the dog slobber on the windows and the furballs in the corner and grab the dog leash. You’ll both be glad you did!