10 Reasons a Pet Benefits Your Health

Happy young Arab man stroking his adorable dog in living room. Cheerful millennial Eastern guy playing with his pet at home. Human animal friendship concept
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Key Points

  • Having a pet provides you with companionship and stability.

  • The benefits of pets for human health include increased exercise and psychological well-being.

  • Dogs and other pets lower stress, ease loneliness, and generally make you happier overall.

  • Feeling loved and fulfilled in life is an essential benefit of pets for human health.

Snuggling up with your dog makes a stressful day melt away. Having a pet is the much-needed antidote to life's worries. The benefits of pets for human health are countless. For millions, a pet completes the circle of affection. They give back more than they receive.

The benefits of pet ownership include increased socialization and lower cholesterol levels, thanks to increased exercise. Pets, especially dogs, help you manage your loneliness and even provide companionship to offset depression. The benefits of pets for human health positively affect your lifestyle.

Dog rests head on owners hands

Why Are Animals Important to Humans?

Your welfare is essential to your overall satisfaction in life. Having an animal has the potential to improve your mental health, provide companionship, and make you feel more secure. Pets give you stability in your daily routine and overall increase the value of existence.

The strength of the human-animal bond is unmistakable. Numerous homes have pets and each family member enjoys the benefits a pet provides, from infants to adults. The increased activity a pet provides leads to a reduction in health problems like cardiovascular mortality.

According to Glenn N. Levine, M.D., the chair of the writing group of the American Heart Association's scientific statement on pet ownership, two studies published in the medical journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes "provide good, quality data indicating dog ownership is associated with reduced cardiac and all-cause mortality." He states that while these studies "cannot 'prove' that adopting or owning a dog directly leads to reduced mortality, these robust findings are certainly at least suggestive of this."

Top 10 Reasons Having a Pet Benefits Your Health

Pets are more than just cute and cuddly companions; they also positively impact your overall health.

In fact, owning a pet offers numerous health benefits beyond the apparent emotional support. From reducing stress to preventing depression, pets improve your mental and physical well-being in many ways.

Here are the top 10 reasons why owning a pet improves your health:

1. Boosts Mental Health

Having a pet positively affects your mental health. Connecting with your pet directly through touch, such as petting or brushing, alleviates stress, depression, and the worries of adulting. A pet provides nonjudgemental support.

All of this establishes an emotional bond between humans and pets, making it easier for traumatized individuals to achieve a sense of calm. Contact with a pet, especially a dog, can reduce post-traumatic stress disorder responses. This enables the creation of positive memories from an otherwise bad experience.

Dogs are particularly good at helping you manage stress levels. It's no wonder dogs make great therapy and support animals. Managing and engaging with daily life may be challenging if you have a long-term mental illness like anxiety or depression. Caring for a pet encourages you to develop daily routines that give you a sense of order, continuity, and calm.

Two paws and hands intertwined

2. Increases Physical Activity

Every step counts. Highly mobile pets like dogs ensure you get up and walk them regularly. The American Heart Association states that dog owners have a 54 percent better chance of getting the recommended exercise they need thanks to their dog.

Staying active and healthy is essential for both you and your dog. Whether you give them a run or a short walk, dogs require some form of physical engagement. Physical activities include playing fetch, obedience training, hiking, and more. Continuous exercise gives you and your dog more energy, excellent bonding time, and a good health boost to keep you going strong throughout the day.

Not everyone owns a dog. Many pet owners prefer cats, rabbits, ferrets, birds, or even pigs! No matter what kind of animal you have, they help you maintain your health through regular exercise, usually in the form of play or training. While you may not see too many pet owners walking their ferrets through the neighborhood, these animals are highly trainable, getting you moving.

Training your pet and acclimatizing them to a crate keeps you active. It also allows you to maintain continuous routines through walking, playtime, or more. Plus, taking a break from your hectic schedule to play with your pet offers enough exercise to unwind and decrease stress levels before returning to work.

Teach your pet tricks! This proves fun for you both and gives them the physical and mental challenges they need to thrive. Keeping you active and on your toes means you thrive as well.

3. More Physical Activity Means Better Cardiovascular Health

Animals, especially dogs, allow you to get outside and exercise more. A daily walking routine with your dog (or ferret!) enables you to hit your step count while giving your pet the exercise they need to maintain their health. These extra steps increase your overall physical health and lower your chances of cardiovascular disease.

High blood pressure is a silent disease that haunts many people. Adults who own and regularily walk their dog typically see a significant reduction in both their systolic and diastolic blood pressure. The extra exercise you get walking and playing with your dog reduces your triglyceride and cholesterol levels and lowers your risk of heart attack and stroke.

Human hand pets underside of cat's head

4. Aging Healthier

Aging is part of life, but having a pet offers you the social and emotional support you need to make the process easier. Their presence alone combats the depression and loneliness of getting older. Many animals, like dogs, cats, and rodents, promote exercise and reduce stress.

Doctors use various animals to assist patients with long-term diseases like dementia or Alzheimer's. Pets are also critical in the hospital for cancer patients. They help with pain management and social interactions with nurses and doctors. This allows a patient to respond better to a specific treatment.

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Pet therapy eases the effects of long-term mental illness for seniors in nursing homes. Pet therapy also decreases the agitation that comes with dementia and improves a senior's social interactions.

5. Eases Loneliness and Depression

No matter what age you are, feelings of loneliness often lead to despair. Your family or friends can't always be there to support you. Your dog offers you the emotional support and unconditional love you need during tough times. Cuddles on the couch work wonders to fend off any isolation you feel. This is one of the reasons so many people adopted dogs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Having a furry friend offers help in a simplified way that friends and family dynamics don't. This is especially valuable to those who live alone and remote workers who find the lack of a social life challenging. If you feel lonely and crave companionship, get a dog or another kind of pet to infuse love and affection into your life.

6. Alleviates Stress and Increases Happiness

Dogs, like other animals, naturally calm you down. According to Washington State University, petting your dog for at least ten minutes reduces stress and blood pressure. They also show that having a dog positively affects anxiety levels. Whether it's the subtle purr of your cat or petting and playing with your dog, having an animal to lean on takes the stress out of everyday life.

Animals also increase your happiness levels. Next time you look at a dog, pay attention to your smile reflux. Staring into your pup's eyes raises the oxytocin level in your brain. Scientists consider this the "love hormone." Canines are natural mood boosters. Their silly personality and puppy eyes are enough to keep you happy all day long.

Human holds a rabbit in the air

7. Safety

Pets, and dogs in particular, benefit you when it comes to feeling secure. While not all dogs are built for protection duty or police training, having one in your home deters violence and burglaries.

Dogs have a fantastic sense of hearing, and their nose is almost impossible to fool. They alert you to what they perceive as danger or a disturbance, but it might just be the postal worker delivering your mail! However, it never hurts to check. A dog's instinct is to protect you and your family. Dogs put your mind at ease while at home, alleviating stress.

8. Improves Socialization

Dogs aren't the only ones who need socialization. As much as you may want to hole up in your home and play the hermit, dogs make you get outside more. Besides exercise, dogs make you more approachable and serve as great conversation starters with people in public.

Consider how often a neighbor has chatted with you at the dog park or on a walk with your dog. Additionally, dog owners find making new friends or gaining acquaintances easier. A human-dog bond also heightens your bonds with others as you feel more connected in your interpersonal relationships.

Human rests cat over their shoulder

9. Pets Make You More Appealing

If you're on a dating app or other social network, having a pet in your profile picture makes you appear better-looking and more approachable to the viewer. Bonus points to you if your potential match is also an animal lover!

A poll done by Veterinarians revealed these fascinating statistics:

  • 63 percent of animal lovers are more likely to swipe right on your dating profile.

  • 47 percent admit they’re attracted to animal owners over non-animal owners.

  • 70 percent of profiles mention that having a dog or pets in their profile helps them get better matches.

  • 50 percent use their dog to meet another person they’re attracted to, whether socializing or with friends.

In such instances, your pet serves as your wingman or wingwoman. Having a dog allows many men to avoid cheesy and dated pickup lines. The animal provides an icebreaker and increases a dater's success.

Pets are popular on apps like Tinder, Bumble, and Match. New apps like Dig and Tindog are designed specifically for animal lovers who want to find someone special with whom to raise a fur baby.

10. Dogs Save Lives and Help You Live Independently

Do you have an emotional support dog or a service dog? What's the difference? An emotional support dog provides companionship and, you guessed it, emotional support. However, a service dog must be specifically trained and licensed to assist with a disability.

According to Assistance Dogs International, nine percent of service dogs help those with epilepsy, medical alert services, and certain stages of diabetes. Another 23 percent help people with autism, while another 19 percent help veterans with PTSD and other military-related physical disabilities. Lastly, 48 percent support those who have mobility issues.

Some dogs excel at difficult search and rescue missions, while others assist the military in bomb detection or out on patrols. There's no limit to what canines can do to make human lives safer.

Dog and owner sit on beach watching waves

Enrich Your Life With Pets

A pet is your cherished family member. Like you, they need attention, love, and care. They give back more than they receive. Having a pet alleviates stress and gets you exercising, leading to a range of health and social benefits.

Owning a pet makes life bearable during difficult times. It's impossible not to love coming home to a smiling dog with a wagging tail. After just a few minutes with your dog, the day's worries melt away. Having a pet is more than companionship. It's a way to enrich your life.

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