Your Health


Friends with Benefits: Eight Ways Pets can Improve your Life

Pets, apart from being comforting companions, offer a multitude of benefits to their owners. Here are eight ways in which pets can improve your physical and mental well-being.

  1. Help you remain physically and mentally active by providing social support

Engaging in physical activity with pets, like tossing a Frisbee or just walking your dog, is beneficial for mental as well as physical health. Studies have shown that animal owners, both adults and children, have lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol and triglycerides, better circulation, and a lower risk of major cardiac issues. The active lifestyle that pets promote strengthens the bones and muscles and boosts self-esteem. Better physical health also minimizes the risk of mental health issues.

  1. Lessen allergies and asthma, and build immunity

According to studies, children who were exposed to two or more dogs or cats, as babies, were at a lower risk of developing asthma and less than half as likely to develop allergies, including dust, grass, ragweed and pet allergies.

  1. Petting reduces stress

Rhythmic petting or grooming can be comforting to both you and your pets. When you connect with your pet, oxytocin, also known as the ‘cuddle hormone’ related to stress and anxiety relief, is released, helping to reduce blood pressure and lower production of the stress hormone, cortisol. Studies have shown that petting a dog can lower heart rate, while watching fish can lower pulse and ease muscle tension.

  1. Offer a soothing presence

Research shows that pet owners have significantly lower blood pressure and heart rate both before and while performing stressful mental tasks. Those recovering from heart attacks also tend to make better progress, and survive for longer when they are surrounded by their pets.

  1. Make you responsible

Taking care of a pet increases your personal sense of value and importance, and reinforces that you are capable of doing much more than you think.

  1. Offer unconditional love and acceptance

Studies show that animals can reduce tension and improve mood. They do not critique, give advice or judge. Physical contact with pets, along with proper treatment, can help those suffering from mild to moderate depression.

  1. Can alter your behavior

By helping to reduce anger and frustration, pets have the ability to instantly change your mood and behavior.

  1. Decrease loneliness and distract you from worries and stress

Pets are known to be great domestic companions through good and bad times. They are intuitive and can sense when you are feeling down, and are great company for those who feel lonely.