Lifestyle Mental Health

The Health Benefits of Having a Pet

Woman laying on a couch hugging and kissing her fawn colored french bulldog

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We consider our pets integral parts of our families. They bring us endless amounts of love, joy, affection and fun. As if that’s not enough, pet ownership is also connected to important health benefits that can help us live better and longer. Let’s explore these extra special bonuses that our furry friends bring us and discover how they make us healthier in body, mind and spirit.

Physical Benefits of Having a Pet

Unless you have allergies to specific animals, studies show that any kind of pet has health benefits — whether it’s a dog, cat, rabbit, bird, fish or even a reptile like a lizard or snake. Even watching a fish in an aquarium helps relax the mind and body, relieving tension and improving focus. Decide what kind of pet suits you best based on how much space you have, your energy levels and your tolerance for fur and dander.

Studies show many physical health benefits you might gain from a pet:

  • Having a pet has been shown to boost immunity
  • Heart attack patients with pets survive longer than those without
  • Pets motivate us to exercise when we take them out for their own
  • Pet owners are less likely to suffer from depression
  • Pet owners have lower blood pressure in stressful situations; petting an animal can quickly calm you and lower your blood pressure
  • Pet owners have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels (indicators of heart disease) than those without pets
  • Playing with a pet can elevate serotonin and dopamine levels, which calm and relax
  • Older adults with pets make 30% fewer visits to their doctors

Mental and Emotional Benefits of Having a Pet

Pet ownership is a lifestyle all its own, and many of those lifestyle features come with health benefits such as:

  • Pet ownership creates a mutual bond among other pet owners
  • Pets add structure and routine to our lives as we get them on a feeding, bathroom and exercise schedule
  • Pets can fulfill our human need for touch and affection through petting them and the fact that we receive mutual love from them
  • The companionship pets offer can reduce the effects of loneliness and anxiety
  • There is a social aspect to having a pet, and they might help you make new friends when you’re out on walks, or when visiting pet stores or training classes.

Friends for Life

No matter how old you are, having a pet can help you find meaning, joy and connection in life. Consider choosing a pet who will not only fit your lifestyle, but add to it with fulfillment and great company. You’ll find yourself feeling better in body, mind and spirit for years to come. Learn more about our philosophy on whole-person health care here.

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