It can seem overwhelming at times being a pet owner. In addition to caring for your four-legged friends’ basic needs such as diet and exercise, you also have to concern yourself with their health as puppies by ensuring they get all their booster shots and helping them age gracefully with regular checkups at the veterinarian. The best thing any pet owner can do is absorb all the information available to them to become an informed pet owner. This includes understanding how you impact your pet’s life and how they impact your life. For example, did you know there are various health benefits that come with owning a pet?
Just How Many Benefits Are There?
There are studies available from countless sources as cited by the likes of Animal Planet, Woman’s Day, and WebMD that outline a variety of benefits that come with owning a pet. Generally speaking, these benefits run the gamut from physical benefits to mental and emotional ones. Here, we’re going to run through eight of the top health benefits you’ll enjoy simply as a result of owning a pet.
1. Lower Blood Pressure
For those with high risks for blood pressure issues, owning a pet can lead to lower blood pressure. For example, those who own a dog are more likely to get regular exercise that helps keep them in better shape in general. Additionally, owning a pet has shown to help lower stress, which aids in the fight against high blood pressure.
2. Lowered Cholesterol
Another heart-healthy benefit of owning a pet is lower cholesterol. Studies by the CDC, cited by Woman’s Day, have found that individuals who own pets (particularly men) have much lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. The exercise needs of dogs, in particular, helps pet owners maintain greater control over their own cholesterol levels.
3. Increased Socialization
Even though some people can feel trapped by a dog that doesn’t do well around other people, it has actually been shown that most people who own dogs enjoy a better social life. When dog owners take their four-legged friends on a daily walk, it not only gets them out of the house and keeps them active, but the dog’s appeal to others encountered on a walk opens the door for more opportunities to socialize with others. This can be particularly helpful to retirees who no longer go to a daily job and might otherwise retreat into a quieter life with less socialization.
4. Allergy Fighters
WebMD shoots down an age-old belief that owning a pet can actually make people allergic to pets or, at the very least, reveal unknown allergies. However, more recent studies have found that owning a pet can actually help the body fight allergens. These studies have shown that kids growing up with “furred animals” around the house are less likely to develop allergies and asthma as a result of the pet’s presence in the home. This is particularly notable in homes with dogs, where the general thinking is that dogs bring in more dirt and allergens from outside. Infants and young children are exposed to this at a younger age and develop stronger immune systems as a result.
5. Blood Sugar Monitors
The American Diabetes Association concluded a study in 1992 that delivered a startling find: dogs “monitor” blood sugar levels. In reality, the study found that one-third of the pets living with diabetic owners changed their own behavior throughout the day with the ebb and flow of their owner’s blood sugar levels. Notably, these pets would change their behavior as the owner’s blood sugar began to drop. This was most likely a reaction to the chemical changes it was sensing in the owner’s body. Whether you believe it or not, this study has spurred the creation of organizations specifically designed to train companion dogs for patients with unstable blood glucose levels.
6. Decreased Likelihood of Heart Attacks and Strokes
As a result of the increased activity of owners and improved heart health, you’re much less likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke. Studies have shown that cat owners are 30% less likely to have a heart attack and 40% less likely to suffer other cardiovascular issues such as a stroke. If you own a dog, data has shown that you’re much more likely to be alive one year after having had a heart attack.
7. Boosts Mood
While there are a lot of benefits to your physical health as a result of owning a pet, you can also enjoy a variety of mental and emotional benefits. People who own dogs or cats feel less stress and are more likely to have a happy disposition. Each day when you come home there is someone waiting to greet you at the door with love and affection. The silly antics of your pet bring laughter to your life. These emotional benefits have proven useful to retirees living alone and US Military personnel suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
8. Help Children Develop Socially and Emotionally
Finally, if you have children in the home, you are likely to find that your children enjoy a variety of emotional benefits as well. Children with a dog or cat in the home develop better skills for expressing themselves and are better at relating to other people as well. For children with autism or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, helping to take care of a pet around the house promotes focus on responsibilities through predictable daily schedules.
You can see why we love owning a dog, beyond the reasons people usually think of. If you are considering adding a dog to your family, check out why you might want to consider an adult dog rather than a puppy. Either way, adding a dog will change a lot of things about your life. There are many things to consider when deciding to get a dog!