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5 Ways In Which Pets Can Benefit Your Health

It’s no secret that dogs are ‘man’s best friend’. I can testify to this as an owner of two cuddly Golden Retrievers, who I often trust to be there for me during my low times more than most humans I know; their love is completely unconditional. 


But the well-known expression can also be extended to other pets, such as cats and even guinea pigs. No matter what kind of animal we have in our lives, we treasure them as part of the family and our daily routines are shaped around taking care of them and giving them as much love as possible. 


Luckily for us, it’s a two-way street, and we actually end up benefiting from all of our doting on them. It turns out they have a positive impact on our mental and physical health. This isn’t just based on anecdotal opinions from pet owners either; science can back it up.  


In fact, ‘pet therapy’ has really caught on in the last few years. This is where specially trained animals are brought into places such as hospitals and care homes to, essentially, help make people feel better. It’s a similar concept to equine therapy (involving horses) which is used to help people who suffer from addictions gain skills like discipline and responsibility.


So, with all of this in mind, let’s take a look at the top five ways in which owning a pet can benefit your health: 


1. They provide us with responsibility and routine


There’s a reason people often say getting a pet is a crucial step towards becoming a parent. After all, these animals aren’t just there to look cute and for us to pet whenever we feel like it. Just as with our children, they rely on us to take care of them. 


This is a good thing because it forces us into healthy routines, like waking up in the morning to walk and feed them rather than sleeping in for as long as possible. No matter what issues we have in our personal lives, needing to look after our pets is a priority, meaning it doesn’t allow us time to mope around. 


In turn, these daily routines increase our general productivity by putting us in a positive mindframe, and they become a catalyst for getting other chores and work done. This is particularly important for anyone suffering from anxiety or depression, who might not feel like getting out of bed or going outside. 


2. They provide us with companionship

Feeling lonely is a natural part of being human and we’ve probably all felt this way at some point in our lives. Suffering from feelings of loneliness can happen for any reason, particularly if you’ve recently moved away from your family or if a loved one has recently passed away.


However, owning a pet tends to ease these feelings of isolation because you know you’ll have their unwavering love and support. Even if you’ve just had a bad day at work, at least you know they’ll be waiting for you, ready to give you some affection and appreciation when you get home. 


Plus, they also fill our biological need for touch, which, as we stroke them, soothes us and makes us feel safe. The act of petting has even been found in multiple studies to help lower your blood pressure; a 1992 Australian study discovered pet owners had lower blood pressure than those who didn’t have pets. 


3. They help ease our anxiety

Have you ever noticed how seeing a picture or video of an animal seems to calm you down a little if you’re feeling anxious? Well, the reason for that is pets - particularly when you’re actively interacting with them in real life - decrease your levels of cortisol; otherwise known as the stress hormone.  


In fact, a study conducted in 2015 showed that children who grew up around pet dogs suffered less anxiety during their childhood than those who didn’t. Another 2018 study found that the mental wellbeing of stressed university students also improved after having therapy dogs visit them on-campus - a trend that is growing increasingly popular with universities in the United States. 


4. They help us get more exercise

If you happen to own a dog, then you’ll know just how much they love their ‘walkies’. That long, pleading stare as they wait outside the door, practically begging you to take them out for a run around. Dogs need regular walks everyday, so exercising will be non-negotiable for you. Don’t view this as an annoyance, though, because getting some exercise is also an important part of human lifestyle. 


In fact, the physical health benefits that regular exercise provides are plentiful. It increases the blood flow to your brain, which aids your memory, and it can reduce the risk of illnesses such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke. And, not only will it keep you fit and healthy, it also benefits your mental wellbeing. Exercise helps to release endorphins and has been found to reduce depression and feelings of negativity. 


5. They provide us with opportunities for social interaction

It’s pretty much a well-known fact that pet owners love talking about their furry friends. Pets are a wonderful conversation starter, especially when you’re out walking your dog (or cat, if you’re into that) and they pull you towards another dog and their owner. You both stand there watching them interact, laughing about them and swapping various bits of information. 


If you regularly walk your dog in the same place, then you start to get to know others who do the same. Having positive interactions with people is a really good way to boost your mood and, therefore, it can also improve your mental wellbeing.



If you’ve been looking for a reason to get a pet, then I’d say that these mental and physical health benefits are just one pretty good reason for biting the bullet and taking on the responsibility of taking care of a cuddly companion.

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