HEALTH BENEFITS OF PETS
Almost 70% of households in the US have a pet. But it’s only recently that studies have begun to scientifically explore who benefits from the human-animal pet bond and also which type of pet brings health benefits.
Caring for an animal can help children grow up more secure and active. Pets also provide valuable companionship for older adults. Pets (especially dogs and cats) can reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and loneliness.
Some pets, dogs, in particular, are a great stimulus for healthy exercise, which can substantially boost your mood and ease depression.
There are even direct, measurable health benefits of pets.
Studies show that people with pets have lower blood pressure in stressful situations than those without pets. One study found that when people with borderline hypertension adopted dogs from a shelter, their blood pressure declined significantly within five months.
We now also know that playing with a dog or cat can elevate serotonin and dopamine, which can make us happy, calm, and relaxed.
If those weren’t enough reasons to consider adopting a pet, pet owners have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels (indicators of heart disease) than those without pets.
Families who own pets usually have the greatest health benefits, but the benefits of pets don’t always need to come from owning a loving dog or a cat. Even watching fish swim in a tank can help reduce muscle tension and lower pulse rate.
Pets can help fulfill the basic human need for touch. Petting, hugging and being around a pet that loves you can quickly soothe in stressful or anxious situations.
Researchers will continue to explore the many health benefits of pets. But so far the science is in – if you can handle the commitment of a pet, you will also reap the rewards of their love and the significant health benefits.
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