HEALTH

How Pet Ownership Can Benefit Overall Health

Owning a pet is one of the great joys in life. Providing great companionship, unconditional love and plenty of cuddles and pats, there is something special about owning a pet. That’s why it makes sense that owning a pet provides humans with mental and physical benefits.

Serving as a source of comfort and support, pets provide seemingly endless positive effects on the human psyche. All of which contributes towards pet owners living a healthy, long and happy life.

Mental benefits of pet ownership

Pets are highly evolved creatures. When they sense that humans are upset or stressed, they provide love and attention to help ease these emotions. However, the power of animals doesn’t stop there. In fact, pets provide many benefits to an individual’s mental health.

Reducing stress levels

One of the ways that pets can improve mental health is through reducing stress levels. For example, it has been shown that pets can elevate serotonin and dopamine levels. The release of these ‘happy’ hormones work to calm and relax, subsequently reducing stress levels.

Companionship

When living with a pet, humans are provided with constant companionship. Having someone to love, touch and talk to can ease feelings of loneliness. For people living on their own or isolated from family and friends, such feelings of companionship can boost mood levels.

Increasing social interaction

Pets are a great equaliser. You can be walking down the street or having a play in a leash free park and someone will stop for a chat. Providing a great ice breaker, a stranger patting your pet could result in a lively conversation.

On the other hand, attending the local dog park might become part of a routine. By seeing the same people daily or weekly, a friendship between pet owners might be sparked. This social interaction can also help mood levels by decreasing feelings of loneliness or depression.

A sense of purpose

Having someone to love and take care of gives pet owners a real sense of purpose. Being encouraged to get out of bed or take in some fresh air truly works wonders on the human psyche.

This sense of purpose works to help individuals feel a multitude of emotions. Firstly, owners will feel needed. Importantly, when a pet scratches on your leg, owners will feel wanted. Secondly, a sense of purpose fosters feelings of love which helps to boost mood levels.

Creating a routine

As well as providing a sense of purpose, pet ownership helps individuals to create a routine. By knowing that you have to feed and play with an animal at a specific time, there is a certain structure to days.

This sense of routine helps individuals feel useful. Structure also ensures that every part of the day becomes productive in some form. This works to benefit mental health by providing individuals with stability, which is a key component of reducing stress levels.

Physical benefits of owning a pet

While pets can provide owners with mental benefits, there are also benefits to physical health to consider. After all, it’s no coincidence that owners of furry friends, such as dogs, have lower instances of obesity.

Improved health

One of the great benefits of owning a pet is experiencing improved health. In fact, studies have shown that people with pets have lower blood pressure when engaged in stressful situations compared to individuals without pets.

Pets have also been shown to drastically benefit heart health. For one, pet owners have lower levels of triglyceride and cholesterol than individuals without pets. These levels are important as higher levels of triglyceride and cholesterol are considered markers of heart disease.

In another example, it’s been shown that heart attack patients with pets will survive longer than those without pets. Highlighting that pets can offer much more benefits to humans than simply elevating moods.

Encouraging exercise

Owning a pet is undoubtedly a large commitment. This is because owners are responsible for providing their pet with food, water, toys, companionship and exercise, among a litany of other things.

With this in mind, in order to responsibly care for their pet, owners are encouraged to  exercise. This means taking your pet for a swim on the beach, a run in the park or a walk in the neighbourhood. A result of all this physical activity is improved fitness for owners too.

The relationship between pet and owner

The relationship between owner and furry friends ranks as one of the most influential. Providing companionship, love and a whole lot of cuddles, the mere presence of pets can instantly lift moods.

However, there are actually real mental and physical benefits associated with pet ownership. All of which highlights how important the bond between pet and owner really is, whether you are looking for a family pet or a pet to keep you company during retirement years.

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