Pets Improve Physical, Mental and Emotional Health of Their Owners

Pets make us laugh. They provide unconditional love. Pets help teach us compassion and understanding. Great company for young and old alike, pets bring untold joy and pleasure to our lives. They also offer a wealth of benefits for our overall health and well being. Pets can improve the physical, mental and emotional health of their owners.

Several studies demonstrate the positive impact a pet can have on the physical health of people. Studies conducted by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institute of Health (NIH) found people with pets exhibit lower blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels, all of which minimize risk of a heart attack. This research also found better recovery rates for pet owners who have suffered a heart attack. Researchers believe pets help reduce and control overall stress levels of pet owners. In addition to lowering blood pressure, pets help reduce feelings of anxiety.

Dog owners benefit physically from the exercise they get from going on a walk, run or bike ride with their pet. Pet owners are much more likely to maintain a healthy weight if they exercise with their pet.  The NIH conducted a study with over 2000 adults and found less obesity among dog owners who walk their dogs. Elderly people not only get exercise when caring for a pet, they have a companion who provides love and a purpose.

Pets can also lower the risk of infants developing allergies as demonstrated by several studies. James E. Gern, a pediatrician at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, published an article in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology detailing several studies  about children who grow up with a furred animal in the home showing less risk of developing allergies and asthma. These children are also less likely to suffer from eczema and have higher levels of some immune system chemicals. These higher levels indicate a stronger immune system activation.

People with pets have less depression according to studies. Playing with a dog elevates levels of serotonin and dopamine. These are neurotransmitters known to have pleasurable and calming properties. Mental health professionals now view animal assisted therapy as an effective treatment for depression and other mental illnesses.

Dogs also help us make social connections. For those who are shy or socially isolated, dogs can help connect them with others. Socialization skills improve through meeting and interacting with other pet owners. Pet owners who have difficulty meeting new people can enroll in a dog training class or visit a dog park, where they have ample opportunity to interact with others. Many restaurants now encourage customers to bring their pets with them by offering outdoor dog-friendly seating. This provides another excellent opportunity for meeting people who share a love of dogs.

Pets bring us joy and make us laugh. The sound of a cat purring or feel of a dog curled up on our lap brings feelings of contentment and happiness. Going outside to play with our pets provides us with fresh air, exercise and our daily dose of vitamin D. The unconditional love of a pet minimizes our anxiety and stress. For these reasons and so many more, pets improve our physical, mental and emotional health.

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