9 ways pets can improve your health

BRB, adopting a dog

Photos: ING Image
Photos: ING Image
21 Oct 2015

Photos: ING Image

Wet doggy kisses and a wagging tail. Your cat’s deep purr as soon as you walk through the door. The warmth of a bird falling asleep in the cup of your hands. Few things feel more instantly gratifying.

But beyond making you feel good, pets also come with numerous health benefits. They can improve your immune system, keep your weight in check, lower your blood pressure, and strengthen your heart. Read on for nine ways pets can help you stay well.

1. They lessen allergies and boost immunity.
1. They lessen allergies and boost immunity.
21 Oct 2015

1. They lessen allergies and boost immunity.

Worried about your little one getting sick or dirty from the family dog’s shedding? Worry less. Pet dander actually increases children’s resistance to common allergens. Studies show that kids who grow up with furry pets are less likely to develop allergies and asthma. They also tend to have stronger immune systems.

2. They reduce stress.
2. They reduce stress.
21 Oct 2015

2. They reduce stress.

When you pet a furry animal, your body undergoes actual physical changes that reduce anxiety. Petting for just a few minutes decreases the stress hormone, cortisol, while increasing your feel-good chemicals, serotonin and dopamine. But dogs and cats aren’t the only mood-enhancing pets. Simply watching fish or baby turtles swim can be soothing. And if you need a good laugh, watch a rabbit binky (do a happy bunny dance). Basically, anything a chubby bunny does is extremely cute and therapeutic, whether it’s chewing hay or sleeping in a curled up ball. 

3. They can help you get fit and lose weight.
3. They can help you get fit and lose weight.
21 Oct 2015

3. They can help you get fit and lose weight.

Dogs are excellent running companions. Studies show that owning a dog makes you more likely to fulfill your daily exercise recommendations. It’s definitely less of a drag to get moving when you’ve got a happy pup by your side. Hiking, playing fetch, jogging, and walking are all fun and healthy activities to do with your pet. 

4. They can lower your blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
4. They can lower your blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
21 Oct 2015

4. They can lower your blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Research shows that pet owners tend to exhibit lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Lower blood pressure and resting heart rates are other perks of owning a pet, along with better circulation. These heart-healthy benefits likely stem from the less stressful, more active lifestyle that pets promote. All this helps minimize your chances of suffering a heart attack.

 

5. They can decrease the risk of cardiac disease and strokes.
5. They can decrease the risk of cardiac disease and strokes.
21 Oct 2015

5. They can decrease the risk of cardiac disease and strokes.

You’re 40% less likely to die of a heart attack if you own a cat. And owning a dog boosts your chances of recovering from one. Pets also lower the risks of heart failure and strokes. In short, your pet does more than provide comfort and companionship. It can protect your heart. 

6. They encourage social interaction.
6. They encourage social interaction.
21 Oct 2015

6. They encourage social interaction.

Owning a pet is good for your social health. Being spotted with a cute pet instantly makes you more approachable, especially by little children and other pet lovers. You can’t walk down the street or dine al fresco without someone stopping to coo over your pup. Even if you’re not much of a conversation starter, chatting with other pet owners in the park feels natural when your dogs hit it off. You can beat loneliness by meeting other animal lovers and joining doggy meet ups.

7. They ease depression and improve your mental health.
7. They ease depression and improve your mental health.
21 Oct 2015

7. They ease depression and improve your mental health.

Pets have healing benefits. Dogs have been shown to help individuals with post traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, trust issues, depression, and anxiety. These loyal canine companions look out for you and love you unconditionally – regardless of what you’ve been through. Their protective nature and ability to sense danger in the immediate surroundings can also make you feel more secure.

By requiring a consistent feeding schedule, pets add a healthy structure to your lifestyle. No matter how depressed you feel, you can’t stay in bed five days in a row when your dog’s pawing at you with big imploring eyes to be fed and walked. Any physical activity will benefit your mental health and mood.

 

8. They improve your emotional wellbeing.
8. They improve your emotional wellbeing.
21 Oct 2015

8. They improve your emotional wellbeing.

A pet makes you feel needed. When everything’s going wrong, what can help ground you is knowing that there’s someone else depending on you, who you’re responsible for. Your love life might be in shambles, but at least your endearing pet canary appreciates your attention and affection – even if other jerks don’t. The simple acts of caring for your pet can distract you from your troubles, whether it’s dealing with grief, job conflicts, or friendship drama. 

9. They promote healthy aging.
9. They promote healthy aging.
21 Oct 2015

9. They promote healthy aging.

The older you get, the more important it is to stay active and connected. Pets can give you a renewed sense of purpose after you retire and your kids have flown the nest. Whether it’s a fun-loving mutt from the shelter or a chirpy cricket, having a pet to nurture can bring much pleasure and fulfillment.

Maintaining social interaction does wonders for your confidence and morale in later life. Pets motivate you to meet new people, enhancing your sense of community. They also boost your vitality by encouraging exercise, playfulness, curiosity and fun.  

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