Why having a pet is good for your health

Why having a pet is good for your health

If you’re already a pet owner, then you likely don’t need too much justification on why it’s a good to have a furry (or scaly or feathered) companion. However, there are a host of health benefits that we’re discovering that makes our relationship with animals all the more important and valuable. Here are a few of them.

Healthier hearts

There is more and more evidence to suggest that owning a pet can be good for the health of your heart. Owning a pet could lower your blood pressure, lower your cholesterol, and decrease the likelihood of both cardiovascular disease and heart attacks. As such, people who own pets have been found to actually have a longer life expectancy than those who don’t.

Decreased chance of obesity

Most active pets demand some sort of physical activity from you as well. Whether it’s simply playing with them and spending time with them or taking breaks from a sedentary lifestyle to ensure their needs are met, pets get you moving. Walking a dog is, of course, excellent exercise. Not only does this play a role in the heart health risk reduction mentioned above, but decreases the likelihood of obesity, which can also mean a lower risk of lower back pain, diabetes, and a host of other issues.

Improves mood and lowers stress

Most pet owners will gladly tell you what a joy it is to have a cat, dog, or even fish in their lives, and the science seems to support that, as well. Spending time with animals has been found to reduce the reaction of the body to stress, measured in increases to blood pressure. This could indicate that being around an animal will regulate your body’s production of cortisol, widely known as the “stress hormone.”

Improve feelings of competence and self-confidence

Looking after a pet takes effort. From ensuring they get the physical activity they need to grooming them to choosing healthy pet food. Getting into a routine and being responsible for another living creature can be a significant improvement to self-confidence and self-esteem, which can lower the chances of developing depression, anxiety, and other emotional health issues. Pets have even been shown to have a significant benefit on the lives of veterans who are living with PTSD.

Improved social skills

Not only do you have the friendship with your pet to treasure but owning one could actually help you build better bonds with other humans, too. Whether it’s talking with other pet owners online, meeting others as you walk your dog in the park, or otherwise, pets can help us socialise. They also fulfil a socialising need in our lives, as shown with therapy dogs that act as companions for people with dementia, which can help reduce behavioural issues and improve their own quality of life.

This is only the beginning of the positive impact that a pet can have on our lives. From decreasing our likelihood of developing allergies to providing pain therapy for those living with harsh chronic conditions, it seems like we’re constantly discovering new ways that our familiar friends are so good for us.


Ruth Chacon