Anyone who has ever loved a pet can attest to the fact that life is just better when you add animals. But, interacting with family pets can also be just the therapy you need to provide tangible mental and physical health benefits.
Studies have shown that pet owners:
- Are less likely to suffer from depression than those without pets.
- Have lower blood pressure in stressful situations than those without pets.
- Enjoy elevated levels of serotonin and dopamine, which calm and relax.
- Have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels (indicators of heart disease) than those without pets.
Children who grow up with pets:
- Have a lowered risk of allergies and asthma.
- Learn responsibility, compassion, and empathy from having pets.
- Possess a greater sense of security and decreased levels of separation anxiety when mom and dad aren’t around.
- Exhibit fewer instances of hyperactivity or aggression.
- Learn to employ imagination and curiosity. The rewards of training a dog to perform a new trick, for example, can teach kids the importance of perseverance.
Aging with a pet is better because:
- Caring for a pet can bring pleasure and help boost your morale and optimism.
- Taking care of an animal can also provide a sense of self-worth.
- Choosing to adopt an animal from a shelter, especially an older dog or cat, can add to the sense of fulfillment, knowing the pet is provided a home that may otherwise have been euthanized.
- Pets provide a great way for seniors to spark up conversations and meet new people.
- Pets encourage playfulness, laughter, and exercise, which can help boost the immune system and increase energy.
While people with dogs often experience the greatest health benefits, a pet doesn’t necessarily have to be a dog or a cat. Even watching fish in an aquarium can help reduce muscle tension and lower pulse rate.
Our busy schedules can sometimes make it difficult to bear the responsibility of a pet. Resources such as professional in-home pet walkers and sitters, however, are available to ensure Fido and Felix not only receive food, water and outdoor time, but also love, affection and even physical fitness when the owner is away for extended periods. Such services make it feasible for individuals and families to own pets, and enjoy the many physical and emotional benefits related thereto, when they otherwise could not.