So Many Reasons to Love Them! The Health Benefits of Pets

A striped brown and gray cat sniffing their humanAs pet owners ourselves, we know that there is no denying the love shared between pets and their people. Whether it’s having your cat purr on your chest as you cry yourself to sleep from a broken heart, or the boundless joy your dog has upon your return (whether it’s been five minutes, or five hours); it can be hard to imagine life without our furry friends by our side.

Most of us won’t deny the fact that animal companionship enriches our life. But did you know that medical research has proven time and time again that sharing your life with a pet, even if it’s something simple as a turtle or goldfish, can have a significantly positive impact on your physical and mental health?

In celebration of Love Your Pet Day (February 20, 2015), let’s look at some of the reasons we should all have fuzzy friends in our lives:

  • Lowered blood pressure – Pet owners not only have lower blood pressure than their non-pet-owning counterparts, but the simple act of petting a four-legged friend instantly lowers our blood pressure, in that moment!
  • Heart health – Recovery from heart attacks is faster for those with a pet by their side, as is post-recovery longevity for patients with pets.
  • Working Animals – A variety of animals have been trained to sniff out and warn their owners against epilepsy, diabetes attacks, and more. Dogs are even learning to smell cancer to help with early detection, the largest factor in successful treatment
  • Immune system booster  Recent studies have found that children who grow up in a home with a dog or cat are less likely to develop allergies. Their immune systems are generally stronger and tend to keep them healthier as they grow.
  • Companionship – Caring for a pet helps us battle loneliness and depression. Not only that, but pets tend to make us feel needed, which in turn improves self-esteem. Plus, it’s worth mentioning that our four-legged friends always live in the now, and make us focus on something besides our own problems.
  • Social interaction – Not only do our pets get us out of the house more, but they also provide a perfect conversation starter. Whether at the dog park or while buying cat food, most of us feel that it’s always OK to talk about our animals.
  • Routine – Animals thrive on routine and, if nothing else, need a regular feeding schedule, which tends to get us up in the morning, no matter what. This is helpful for people who have their own issues with keeping to a schedule, something common among those suffering from depression.

While this is, by no means, an exhaustive list of how pets benefit our lives and our health, it’s certainly food for thought. New research on the health benefits of pets is emerging daily, and the discoveries made may surprise you so. But we encourage you to do your own research, too. How does your pet benefit your life and keep you healthy? We’d love to hear your thoughts on our Facebook page!