Nothing beats the happiness of coming home to a loving four-legged companion after having a long, tough day and no one can understand this better than a pet parent. A furry ball jumping on you as soon as you walk through the door can make you forget about your worries and stress, isn't it? Ah, and not just stress and worries, pets provide a myriad of other health benefits to humans. In this article, we will discuss about the health benefits of having a pet.
How Pets Can Improve Your Health
Most people are aware of the happiness and joys that pets bring into our lives, but not everyone is clear about their health benefits. Research has proved that owning a pet can work wonders for improving your physical as well as mental health.
Benefits Of Pets On Your Physical Health:
- People who have pets are less likely to suffer from high blood pressure as pets help maintain the systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
- Pets help lower the triglyceride and cholesterol levels and hence, prevent cardiac diseases.
- Having a pet can reduce the chances of strokes and heart attacks.
- Pets also encourage exercise and help you stay in shape to prevent obesity, hence preventing obesity-related disorders.
- People who have a pet in their house are found to have stronger immunity than those who don't have one.
- Therapeutic pets help in pain management and aid in the recovery of critical patients in the hospital.
- Owning a dog reduces one's risk of premature death by up to 70%.
- Most people are found to make better lifestyle changes after adopting a pet.
Benefits Of Pets On Your Mental Health:
- Pets keep stress, anxiety and depression at bay.
- Spending time with pets can elevate dopamine and serotonin transmitters, which are known to have calming and pleasurable properties.
- According to research, interaction with dogs boosts a "love hormone" called oxytocin. Oxytocin is a "feel-good" hormone responsible for social bonding, which improves our psychological wellbeing as we become more social.
- Humans have the basic need for touch and a pet can fulfill this need on a daily basis. Snuggling, hugging and touching your furry friend every day can make you feel needed and wanted.
- Most large dogs require a good amount of exercise, and such active dogs keep you moving, as you have to take them out for walks, exercise and strolls. These workouts substantially boost your mood.
- Having a pet encourages you to have a healthy lifestyle, which helps reduce the symptoms of depression, bipolar disorder and other mental disorders.
- Therapy dogs can improve the mental wellbeing of people going through cancer therapies or PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).
- Having a pet at home can ease loneliness, especially if you live alone (and oh, they can also help you get dates!).
"All kinds of pets are equally advantageous for your health."
Pets, especially dogs and cats, can help people live happier and healthier lives with their charming and loving personalities. But remember, any pet can be equally beneficial for your health. A rabbit could be an ideal pet for you if you have limited space, whereas birds can keep the environment of your house lively. Watching an aquarium full of fish can help you sharpen your concentration and lower your pulse rate, while horses, snakes, lizards and other exotic reptiles call for fancy pets.
Benefits of Pets for Senior Citizens
There is no second thought to the fact that growing older can bring along loneliness. Family and friends move out and the old-age problems start kicking in. It becomes difficult to go out often, and a sense of being cooped up in the house develops. This is when our guardian angels come to the rescue. Pets are the most reliable source of comfort and companionship and can benefit seniors in countless ways.
- According to a survey, 65% of the elderly don't feel depressed and lonely when they are with pets, as they provide a great deal of companionship.
- Most senior citizens are reluctant to exercise and go out for walks due to their health problems, but having a pet encourages them to take their furry companions out, which ultimately helps them stay active.
- Seniors love to take care of their children and grandchildren, but time flies quickly and eventually they end up being alone. Caring for a pet can be very satisfying and can help regain that sense of nurturance.
- According to research, interacting with pets can lower cortisol, a stress hormone. Low cortisol levels are found to be associated with low blood pressure and may aid in stress relief.
- Elders with conditions like Alzheimer's disease or dementia are found to suffer from less anxiety outbursts and reduced agitation and behavior issues when around pets.
Which pets are the best for senior citizens?
Although the pet that matches best with a senior's personality is best for them, consider the following questions before getting a pet for an elderly person.
- What is the living situation of the senior citizen? Independent or assisted living?
- What are the financial conditions? Are there any financial limitations?
- Is the senior active? Do their activity levels match with that of the pet?
Whatever type of pet a senior can accommodate and afford, the benefits to the owner's physical and mental well-being are numerous and far transcend any effort required to care for them. Furthermore, if you are looking for a pet for an elderly person, do not overlook senior pets, as these pets have already left their hyperactive, destructive phase behind and are much calmer and laidback, making them the best option to consider.
Benefits of Pets for Children
Like adults, children also reap many benefits from having a pet. Children who grow up in a household that owns a pet grow up more secure, active and empathetic. According to research, parents who own a pet can raise emotionally intelligent children as compared to those parents who don't have pets. Here are a few more reasons why you should bring a pet home for your child.
- Kids that grow up with pets are less likely to develop allergies and asthma.
- Feeding and caring for a pet teaches responsibility to the kids.
- Having a loyal and loving pet can make a child feel important and help them develop a positive image.
- Children get emotionally attached to their pets, which helps them to build better relationships in the future.
- Pets can help calm down aggressive and hyperactive children.
- Kids with pets get to go out more often on a daily basis (for walks, runs). This ultimately renders many health benefits and keeps children fit.
- Pets teach important life lessons to kids, including reproduction, birth, illnesses, accidents, death, and bereavement.
- Having a pet at home can help children cope with separation anxiety, especially in the case of working parents.
- Pets can benefit children with learning disabilities in learning how to manage tension and calm down, allowing them to better cope with the challenges of their disorder.
- Kids with autism or other cognitive disabilities can do better off with pets as they communicate with non-verbal cues.
- According to research, children whose mothers spent time around dogs during pregnancy are at a lower risk of developing eczema.
Which pets are the best for children?
While there are no golden rules when it comes to choosing a pet for your child, you should consider the following questions before you embark on bringing a new pet to your house.
- Would you be able to spare enough time for your kid and the pet both?
- What are your financial conditions?
- Is your kid showing genuine interest in adopting a pet?
Pet ownership can be a chance for kids to learn responsibility, dependability, friendship, love and other valuable life lessons that are important to live a meaningful life.
Benefits of Pets for People with Disabilities
Assistance and service animals are a boon for people with disabilities. They can do much more help than you may have imagined. These service animals are extensively trained to help people with disabilities in living a better life.
Which pets are the best for people with disabilities?
Dogs that have an acute sense of hearing can assist people who are dead or have hearing disabilities. Hearing dogs are well-trained to identify the sounds of family members, telephone rings, doorbells, smoke alarms, alarm clocks, etc. to guide their owners. They can even lead you to the source of the sounds.
Guide animals are an excellent form of support for blind or partially blind people. They can navigate their handlers on their way to home or work, save them from potential hazards, and can safely help them go about their day-to-day activities.
Service animals can help people with autism, mental disorders, or other physical disabilities get through their routine lives. Such animals can assist them in everyday tasks like opening and closing doors or fetching medicines. They can even help their handlers by making sounds or informing others in case of emergencies like seizures or injury.
Adopting a Pet Is a Lifetime Commitment-Check If You're Really Up For It:
After walking through all the benefits our pets can offer, one can easily get wrapped up in the idea of owning one. However, it is imperative to understand that adopting a pet is a major commitment.
If you are not someone who likes pets, merely owning one will not miraculously cure your health issues. Having a pet will only be rewarding and reassuring to those who love and appreciate animals and can invest time, money and emotions to keep their pets happy and healthy.
And, even if you are a "pet-person", it is essential to consider the responsibilities that entails. Consider the following things while you plan on adopting a pet.
- Are you ready to spend enough money?
Owning a pet will cost you regular food bills, vet bills, vaccination costs, maintenance costs, licenses, grooming, pet care essentials and what not. If you have a limited income, these expenses might take a toll on you.
- Can you spare adequate time and attention?
Pets require a lot of attention and care. You can't just bring one home and leave it alone In order to keep pets calm, happy and healthy, it is essential to give them ample time and attention.
- Is your accommodation stable?
Do you have any plans to shift to another state or country in a year or two? Or in the next five years? Would you be able to take your pet along with you? Owning a pet is a lifetime responsibility and hence, you must consider these questions before getting a pet.
- Can you manage to care for a pet on a daily basis?
As mentioned earlier, you need to spare enough time in your day-to-day life to take proper care of a pet. If you are a working professional, it will be difficult for you to look after your pet's feeding and exercise schedules. You should only own a pet if you or someone else can care for it, or unless the pet suffers from conditions such as depression or obesity.
- Does its personality suit your lifestyle?
Your pet should match your personality and lifestyle. If you are an avid traveller and you spend most of your time hiking and travelling, a Chihuahua or a rabbit might not be able to accompany you. On the contrary, active and energetic dogs like Rottweiler or German shepherds won't do well if you live in a small studio apartment.
- Will you deal with your pet's behavioral issues?
Every pet tends to have behavioral issues at some point in their lives, so it is crucial to consider whether you can deal with them. Your puppy may end up chewing your brand-new Gucci bag, or your cat may spoil your couch by peeing outside the litter box. Ask yourself if you can really let it go if your pet overwhelms you with his behavioral issues.
Before rushing into adoption, ask these questions to yourself. You will be ready to welcome a new furry friend into your house only when your answers are affirmative!
Not ready to own a pet yet? Here's what you can do…
If you think you are not ready to commit to this lifelong responsibility, there are still ways you can enrich your life with pets and can reap their benefits to enhance your health and happiness.
If you really want to be around pets, you can spend a day in a shelter home every week, or volunteer with the animal rescue organizations. Most rescue homes welcome such volunteers to help them take care of the rescued animals. You can also enroll in volunteer work at the animal adoption events organized by them. Or, you can ask to walk your neighbour's dog or to feed your friend's cat once in a while.
Fostering a homeless pet until it finds its permanent home is also a good alternative to keeping a pet for few days without making any major commitments. Or, you can also be open to "pet-sitting" and looking after your friend's pet when they're out of town!
This way, you'll not only get a chance to spend time with pets, but you'll also be helping yourself by reaping its benefits!