Our Harrisburg vets share some of the powerful mood and health-boosting properties of owning a pet in this post.
How a Pet Can Be Good for Your Health
Pets of all kinds, not just dogs and cats, can provide health benefits. If you are allergic to other animals or have limited space but still want a furry friend to snuggle with, a rabbit could be ideal. Birds can promote social interaction and help you keep your mind sharp if you're an elderly person. Snakes, lizards, and other reptiles can make interesting pets. Watching fish in an aquarium can also help to reduce stress and provide a calming effect.
Here are just a few of the benefits that can come with pet ownership:
- Pet owners are less likely to suffer from depression than those without pets.
- Playing with a pet can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, which produce a calming and relaxing feeling.
- Some studies have shown lower rates of blood pressure and cholesterol levels amongst pet owners.
- Heart attack patients with pets survive longer than those without.
- Pet owners over age 65 make 30 percent fewer visits to their doctors than those without pets.
Other Benefits of Pet Ownership
Besides the health benefits listed above, owning a pet can also:
- Increase your physical activity. This is particularly true if you own a dog. Taking your dog for a run, walk, hike or even a play date at the park is an easy way to get some extra steps in. Exercising and playing with your pet also keeps him or her healthy and reduces the likelihood of behavioral problems.
- Offer companionship. Everyone requires companionship, and having a pet is a great way to get it. Caring for an animal can help you feel needed and wanted while diverting your attention away from your problems, especially if you live alone. The majority of pet owners communicate with their animals. It can be beneficial to have a sounding board that does not pass judgment on what you say.
- Help you meet new people. Pets can help you meet new people, whether it's out walking, at the pet shop, or an event (try looking up a pet expo near you)!
- Make your day more organized. Many people benefit from routines, and a pet can provide one. On days when you may have struggled to get out of bed, having a pet can provide you with the motivation you need to get your day started.
Pets & Seniors
Many seniors, especially those who live alone, can benefit from the companionship of a pet. Pets can help older people rediscover their sense of purpose and joy in life. Choosing to adopt a pet from a shelter, especially an older pet, can increase your sense of accomplishment because you've given a home to a pet who would otherwise have been euthanized.
Pets can also give you a sense of connection, especially if you have a dog. Dogs are an excellent way to strike up a conversation and meet new people.
Older adults who have pets report an increase in vitality as well. Dogs, cats, and other pets promote playfulness, laughter, and exercise, which can help boost your immune system and increase your energy levels.
Pets & Children
Pets can be a great addition to a child's life. They can have a soothing presence, act as a companion, and teach your child about responsibility.
Pet ownership has also been shown in studies to benefit children with behavioral issues such as aggression or hyperactivity. Of course, both the animal and the child must be trained to interact properly, but the pet can teach your child patience, empathy, and understanding.
If you are thinking about getting a pet for your child, choose one that you will enjoy caring for, especially if you have a young child. Even kids who have the best intentions of playing with the dog every day or cleaning the kitty litter box may require some adult assistance now and then.
Now that we've covered all of the wonderful aspects of pets, there are a few more points to discuss. Having a pet is not a panacea for poor mental or physical health. While having a pet can certainly help you on your way to a healthier lifestyle, it is still critical to seek proper medical attention if necessary.
It is also important to remember that owning a pet requires a significant time commitment. If you don't have the time or money to properly raise an animal, having one may cause you more stress than not having one.
Before embarking on the journey of pet ownership, be sure to research, budget, and plan to be sure you and your new friend will have a long and happy life together.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding people or pets. Always consult with a vet before making medical decisions for your pet.