Owning a dog or a cat is a significant responsibility, but it turns out they’re well worth the effort. A pet not only adds companionship to your life, but years as well, by reducing your risk of a variety of conditions and improving your overall physical and mental health. Here are seven of the many ways pets can have a positive impact on your health:
- They help beat depression. The unconditional love your pet gives can do wonders for your mood. One of the major signs of depression is the feeling that life has no value. But when you’re responsible for another living thing, it gives you that value, which is essential for breaking out of and preventing depression.
- They’re great stress-relievers. Living in a constant state of fight-or-flight from ongoing stress takes a toll on the body, including raising the risk of heart disease and other dangerous conditions. Pets counteract the stress with unconditional love and companionship, helping you feel calm and relaxed.
- Pets can help with eating disorder recovery. Animal-assisted therapy has been shown to contribute to relaxation and reduce stress, supporting recovery efforts. Connecting with an animal also has the power to take you outside of yourself so you can focus on the furry friend who needs your love and attention.
- Pets help you socialize more. Need that push to get out and meet people? Pets—and dogs in particular—are the perfect solution. Research has shown that dogs help people break out of their shell and boost their level of confidence.
- They help your heart. According the American Heart Association, being a pet owner can be a big benefit for your heart health. The study found that owning a pet may reduce the risk for heart disease because petting them lowers blood pressure and pulse rate. Research has shown that pet owners have lower cholesterol levels, as well.
- Pets help you be in the moment. Keeping your attention on the present can help reduce stress, and whether it’s a meditative walk or a vigorous game of fetch, interacting with your pet keeps your focus on the now.
- They can help you live a longer, fuller life. When you put all the health benefits of pets together, it’s easy to see how they can improve both the quantity and quality of your years. Pets provide a sense of well-being, leading to better long-term health and happiness.
Animals are capable of providing unconditional love in a unique and beautiful way. They offer a measure of healing that’s difficult to find elsewhere.