Positive Health Wellness has a wonderful article titled, All You Need to Know About Pets Improving Your Health, written by Karen Reed. For more information directly visit their website.
Having a pet is more than just having someone to come home to. This is another member of your family, who will love you unconditionally. It doesn’t really matter what type of animal you keep as a pet, you have someone who relies on you and just wants the best bond with you.
In fact, having pets has proven to improve the health of humans considerably. This is especially the case when it comes to pets that need walking or are overly affectionate. They can help improve your mental and physical health within months.
This could be the perfect time to get a new family member in your home. That is if you have the time and ability to look after a furry friend. Here are all the ways that you can improve your health through pets.
It’s All About Spending Quality Time
Just having a pet in your house isn’t going to improve your health instantly. This is all about spending quality time with your pet. The health benefits mostly come from the connection that you and your pet will have. Many pet owners express how their pets are family members, and in some cases like their children. Social and relationship connections are essential for human beings. We feel appreciated, loved, and valuable.
One of the benefits of pets is that they love unconditionally. They are always there for you, waiting for you to come home. There is no hatred in their bones and no reason for them to fight against you. They know that you care for them, so they are going to be there whenever you need them. They will listen to you when you’ve had a bad day and celebrate your achievements with you.
But how does this connection to your pets help your health? Just which ways do you benefit? Doesn’t having friends do the same thing?
Here’s all you need to know about how pets improve your health.
Petting Your Pet Helps Release Happy Hormones and Reduce Stress
One of the biggest benefits is the reduction in stress. When you don’t have a pet, you need to find a way to reduce the stress hormones being released. This isn’t easy for everyone. Stress can lead to being cooped up in the house and struggling to sleep, as you don’t have an outlet in your home.
Your pet will give you some type of outlet. No, not something to shout at or release your stress at but to help you calm down and release the happy hormones. Simply just stroking or petting your animal is the best way to reduce your stress levels. The process of stroking helps you focus on something and someone else, while you build your relationship with your pet.
Cats and dogs tend to be the best, especially dogs since they love this sort of connection with you. But any animal can give you this type of benefits. Rabbits and pet rats tend to sit on your hands and let you stroke them gently. Gerbils and hamsters will enjoy the feeling, and you get the constant movement and soothing touch.
Just petting your animal helps to release the relaxation hormones. Your blood pressure will drop, and you are at a much lower risk of various side effects of too much stress.
There are still other ways to reduce your stress and deal with how stress affects you, but having an animal in your house will improve your health much sooner. The next time you come home from work, sit down with your pet for 10 minutes and stroke them lovingly. You’ll instantly notice the difference.
Of course, getting out of the house with your pet will also help to improve your mindset and reduce stress. When you get more exercise, you will release more happy hormones. These hormones help to reduce a number ofstress hormones released into your body. You start to feel better and happier within yourself.
Someone to Talk to When It All Goes Wrong
You may feel like you are talking to yourself, but your pet does listen to you. This is especially the case with dogs. Your pet will recognize your voice and be interested in the things that you must say. They want to know how your day went and will be there to comfort you when you need it.
When you just need to rant or share something sad that has happened, your pet will sit and intently listen to you. There is no judgment and nobody to answer you back. You just get to release the frustration and rant to someone in your home.
While you need to watch out for taking out the stress of your pet, this is a great way to deal with situations that have just gone wrong. You get to vent without issue, and your pet will be there to cuddle you when you’ve finished.
The same applies when you’re sad. If you just want to cry, your pet will be there to come to you and give you a shoulder to cry on. Your loving furry friend won’t leave until they are certain that you’re ready for them to go somewhere—unless they need to get outside for their business, of course! You get the soothing that you need without having to explain yourself.
If you don’t believe, you just have to take a look at Marley and Me. When Jennifer Aniston’s character suffers a miscarriage, Marley is right there to hug her and help her get through the devastation and heartbreak.
Help to Improve Your Physical Health
When you have a pet, especially a dog, there’s no denying that you have to get out more. Dogs require regular walks, which means that you get out of the house to do that. It doesn’t matter if it’s raining, snowing, or dry, your dog will need to get outside for their business and to get their own exercise.
People with pets, particularly dogs, tend to be fitter and healthier. They find weight loss easier because they get the daily exercise that they need. It’s possible to get an hour or two of exercise through walking and playing with your pet outside.
You’ll soon find that an hour or two of exercise is nothing. You’ll find it easier to walk up and down stairs, and other elements of your physical fitness will improve.
Getting out more and improving your physical fitness will also help other elements of your physical health. As you exercise more, your blood pressure and cholesterol levels drop. You are at a lower risk of suffering from a heart attack or stroke, as your arteries remain clear and your whole cardiovascular system is supported.
You have stronger muscles, which help to support your bones. At the same time, you keep your metabolism supported, avoiding weight gain, which leads to other health problems. Your whole body will thank you for getting out more and doing more exercise. It doesn’t even have to be a lot or high intensity.
But don’t people without dogs get out and exercise? Yes and no. Some people will, and there are fitness fanatics who will get out and exercisedaily. Some people train for marathons and triathlons. However, mostpeople are sedentary. They avoid the gym and even going for walks.
Studies have shown that those without dogs will do 168 hours a week of exercise on average. Those who have dogs will do 300 hours a week. That is double the recommended amount to support your health and is the exact amount recommended to boost weight loss efforts. There are high chances that you don’t even realize that you are doing this amount of exercise, as you just do it because your pet needs you.
Feels Like You Have More Meaning in Life for a Better Quality of Life
The quality of life isn’t just about the amount that you can do in a day. There is an element of feeling like you are worth more and that you play a valuable role in those around you. This can be difficult if you don’t have someone or something relying on.
Parents tend to find this meaning in life through their children. They have their childrenconstantly needing their support and advice. It’s only up to them to help create the best possible future for their children.
However, parents don’t get the full benefits that pet owners get. Those with pets tend to be far more trusting. It doesn’t take as long for pets to understand boundaries and build instincts around the people and other animals they meet. The pet owners get a good idea of who to trust and when to build networks based on their pets’ instincts.
Those with pets tend to feel like they have more control. There is someone who is only reliant on them. Children grow up and leave the house. The animal is always there until the end of its life. This really doesn’t matter what type of animal you have.
This better meaning of life helps to boost quality. It boosts your mood and helps you feel like there is a place for you. This leads us to the next point.
Pets Support the Mental Health to Decrease Risks of Depression
When you have a pet, you tend to have a better support system. We just must look at the above benefits of having someone there to listen to your vents and cuddle you when you are sad. Those with pets are far less likely to suffer from mental health issues like depression and anxiety. There is always someone there ready to boost your mood and put a smile back on your face.
Remember that this is someone who loves you unconditionally. When you’re having a bad day, they are there to give you a cuddle and let you stroke them. You’ll release the relaxation and happy hormones in your body to better support your mood.
This is also someone in your life who passes no judgment. You don’t have to feel self-conscious when you want to talk to someone and tell them about your day. There’s no need to feel worried that your secrets and feelings will be shared with anyone else. Even if the person can’t talk, you’re more likely to open up. Just getting the words and feelings out can help to boost your feelings. It’s almost like having a diary to share your feelings with someone you deeply trust.
At the same time, you build the confidence to share your thoughts with others. You’re more likely to find someone to confide in who can physically help you; someone who will be able to support you in ways that pets just are unable to.
Your pets are also there to rid you of the negative feelings. You have something in your life to take your mind off the current situation. While you have to take care of someone else, you don’t have the time to sit and wallow in your self-pity or your depressive state.
This is also someone who will get you out of the house. We’ve already discussed that the fitness will help to boost your mental health. When you get out of the house and exercise, your brain starts to release happy hormones. They will support your mental health and make you feel better within yourself. You gain more confidence and feel like you can accomplish far more.
If you’re not too sure about this, it’s worth looking at study results. Studies have shown that those with pets have fewer depressed thoughts. They are also less likely to consider suicide. You know that there is someone else who is totally reliant on you and someone who gives you that urge to keep on living.
Pets will also keep your anxiety levels to a minimum. When you have your pet, you stay now. You focus just on your animal and what you can do right now to help them. You need to focus on the feelings and needs of your pet. This means you don’t think about the past or the future.
You’re not as likely to worry about events that could happen. You can keep your mind off the things that have happened in the past. Some of these events will be irrelevant to your life now or your life in the future but still cause anxiety right now. Your pet keeps your mind off all this.
This is also a benefit if you suffer from PTSD. Your pet helps to keep your memories at bay. You focus just on the moment and your time with your animal. If there is a trigger, you have your pet there to pull you back and remind yourself where you are. Those flashes are kept to a minimum, and you’re more likely to be able to move forward, rather than remain focused on the event and let it take control of your life.
Some pets will get to know your routine or figure out what you need in times of need. If they notice that you are having a flashback, they will work out the best ways to pull you out of those flashbacks. They’ll find ways to help you take your mind off the past or the future and draw you back to the present. This can often help to stop your mental health deteriorating in the moment.
As they learn what you need, they will keep doing that. They become that source of comfort when you need to weather the storm; someone that you know, you can always rely on.
Pets, like children, have their own personalities. They find things that they love and learn tricks that they enjoy doing. They will become instant sources of entertainment.
Dogs like to roll over and play fetch, while cats tend to jump and do their own rolls. They will chase objects or moving shafts of light, not realizing that they aren’t a form of entertainment. There is a care-free attitude that adults wish that they could have.
The benefit is that their care-free attitude and personality give you a source of entertainment. They will put a smile on your face, even when you thought it would be impossible to laugh. In some cases, they do something that they know you find hilarious because they get the sense that you feel like you need cheering up.
Helps Eliminate the Feeling of Being Lonely
How often have you felt completely alone in the world? You can be surrounded by family and friends, but you still feel like you’re on an island and nobody is there to help you. There are times that you can feel like you’re drowning, and nobody is coming with a life vest to keep you afloat.
This can lead to various mental health problems. It is also one of the main reasons for suicide. Even if you know there are people there for you, you don’t feel like you can talk to them.
Your pet helps to eliminate this feeling of loneliness. You know that there is somebody right there to support you and help you. While they may not be able to do anything physical to help you, just the fact that they are there will help.
This all links into the fact that your pet is there to list. It all links to this unconditional love that pets offer. They are there just to lend a non-judgemental shoulder to lean on. They cuddle into you and let you stroke them to know that they want you to feel loved and admired. They don’t care if you’ve forgotten to put the bins out, if you aren’t dressed, or if you’ve messed up badly in another relationship. They don’t care what is going on in the world around you. Your pet will always love you.
Of course, this does mean there is a requirement from you. They rely on you for absolutely everything, and they want to be loved by you. When they’re naughty, they’re not doing it out of spite. They often do it for attention or because they think it is all game.They’re like toddlers who just want to be loved unconditionally they way that they love you.
You need to be up for that challenge of always being there for them.
At the same time as offering someone to lean on, your pet will help you become more sociable. You have far more confidence in yourself because you feel like you have the support. You’re more likely to talk to others because you don’t feel like you need to hide behind anything.
Pet owners tend to talk to each other, even if they don’t knoweach other’s names. It’s like moms in a school playground. They know each other as child’s mom rather than by their actual name, while dog owners are known as the dog’s mom/dad/carer instead of by their real name.
Getting to know someone who has a pet helps you create a conversation. You already know that you have something in common. There are instant opening lines, including asking for advice on how to tackle certain behavior or where to find anitem for your pet. As you learn more about each others’ pets, you will find more confidence to find out about each other.
As you socialize more, there isn’t this feeling of isolation. You’re not longer on this desolate island with nobody around you. There’s also the ability to get an adult conversation with people who will talk back! Pets are great, but they can only do so much, right?
They Take You Out of the Daily Grind, Even for a Moment
The daily grind can wear you down. If you come home to an empty house, you’re more likely to feel it. However, with other adults or even children, you can feel this daily grind take its toll on you. There’s this feeling of all work and no play, and you really do become dull and bored.
While there is a routine, you forget what it was like to have fun. This is especially the case as children grow up or as you get swamped under more projects at work. You struggle to find the enjoyment in life.
Pets won’t let that happen. They want attention, and they need fun. They want you to play with them and will pester you until you do it.
Okay, so at times this can be annoying. If you’re trying to get through a big project and need to concentrate, their need to play can get in your way. But your pets are also good at reading your body language. If you need to work, they are more likely to let you. They’ll wait until you’ve finished grabbing your attention.
When pets want to play, they really want to play. They add some fun back into your life, whether you have children or not. If you do have children, the two of them together can be endless sources of entertainment, and there is always something fun to do. You just need to watch out for how children and dogs get along to make sure everyone remains safe!
By taking you out of the daily grind, even for a moment, you get that quality of life again. You feel like you have a purpose and that purpose isn’t just to slave away for someone else.
Reduce the Risk of Allergies, Not Create Them!
There are a lot of people who say that pets have caused allergic reactions. Sure enough, there are some people who are allergic to some animals. However, this is usually to the pet dander or the bacteria that can build in the fur if it is not cleaned regularly. Some people will only be allergic to certain types of animals, meaning having a pet is not completely out of the question: you just need to find the right pet.
Yet, there are studies that show having a pet can help to reduce allergic reactions, and not just to other animals! Studies have shown that children are less likely to develop the likes of hay fever, eczema, and other common ailments. This is when children are exposed to pets within the first six months of their lives.
Asthma symptoms are also less likely in children with pets. While there are still studies to understand the full reason why scientists believe that this is due to the body being exposed to the allergens at an age when the immune system is still developing. The immune system views the allergens as normal, so doesn’t create the antibodies to fight against them. There isn’t the view that the allergens are causing a problem to your health.
The studies have shown that people who grow up around dogs, cats, or farm animals have the best benefits. They gained stronger immune systems in the future, which means they are also more likely to fight off some of the most common infections and will have a lower risk of developing respiratory infections.
Babies in their first year will benefit considerably from pets being in the home. Their immune system is supported in a way to lower the risk of colds and ear infections. This has been compared to babies in their first year without pets in the house.
The downside is that you want to start the exposure to the animals as soon as possible. The immune system still develops in the first year of life. After this, the antibodies it creates tend to stick rather than adapt, so antibodies to allergens are more likely to form later.
Improve Your Chances of Weight Loss
We’ve briefly covered this when talking about fitness and exercise, but there are far more benefits to your weight loss efforts by having a pet. Let’s continue the discussion about fitness first, though.
When you have a dog especially, you need to walk them. With other pets, you need to play games and will get other forms of exercise. This helps you burn more calories throughout the day. With dog walking, you can boost your muscles strength and tone, which also helps to kick up your metabolic rate a notch. You’ll find it easier to burn more calories throughout the day without having to do more exercise.
You get the recommended levels of fitness. Of course, this makes you feel good, and you want to do more fitness. You’re also less likely to sneak in the bad food, which is often high in calories and offers no nutritional benefits. After all, the last thing you want is to damage all the good work you’re doing, right?
Creating a calorie deficit will be far easier. That instantly means you burn the extra calories you’re carrying, so you lose weight.
And the more weight you lose, the more exercise you do. You’ll constantly be on the go and find it easier to create a calorie deficit constantly. You’re less likely to plateau in your diet along with the way.
But there is another benefit for your weight loss: you will find that you have less need to snack. Most of us snack on food because of our emotions. We feel bored, tired, or sad. We use food as a way to boost our mental health, but it really does the opposite.
When you have a pet, you have someone to distract you. There is an animal in your life to keep your mind off the negatives. You’re kept occupied, whether it’s through playing or just stroking. The cookie jar is less appealing, as you don’t feel the need to boost your mood in any way.
Plus, you have the added bonus of your hands being idle. When you’re watching TV, stroking your bet keeps your hands busy. This is one of the reasons we snack while watching a movie or a TV show. We feel unproductive and think our hands should be doing something, and that usually leads to grabbing snacks to keep them moving up and down. When you have a pet, the stroking will make you feel like you’re doing something productive.
Improve Child Socialisation and Care
Pets won’t just help to reduce the risk of allergies and infection. Your child’s whole being will benefit with an animal in the house. Your pet is reliant on all of you. Your child quickly learns how to care for others.
The lessons will start off small. It could be encouraging the dog to do tricks for treats or putting the water into the rabbit cage. You may encourage your child to help pick up the pet’s toys or clean out cages and tanks, depending on the pet that you have.
All of these lessons will teach responsibility from a young age. As your child gets older, they can do more for the pet. They learn just how much the animal needs and how important it is to care for them. You can let them help with grooming your animal and administer medication when they do get hold enough to handle it.
At the same time, your child learns more about socialization. Children can be shy, but a pet helps to open them up to other people. They instantly have something to talk about, even to people who don’t have pets. They can share the tasks that they do on a daily basis and how they help out around the house. They get to show off the tricks that their pet has learned.
Then when they get older, they develop the same social skills that you will develop with your pet. There are others in the dog park to talk to with similar interests
Their pets also help them gain confidence. They have someone to talk to and discuss things with. There’s no judgment, which helps them develop their communication skills without feeling like they will be laughed at. Some children develop debating and presentation skills, as their pet starts to feel like their audience.
Someone to Help those on the Autism Spectrum
People with autism have been known to seek help through having pets. This is for multiple reasons, but many of them connect to the benefits that we’ve already looked at.
The stroking of the pet is relaxing. When someone with autism becomes stressed, they can suffer meltdowns. They don’t always have the ability to reassess the situation and calm themselves down. There needs to be a crutch to help them do that. Pets, especially dogs, are that crutch.
Animals understand far more than we tend to give them credit for. They have the ability to step in and pull the person having the meltdown back into the present. They encourage the petting process to help release the relaxation hormones and reduce the stress hormones. A behavioral pattern develops, and the dog is always there to give that unconditional support when necessary.
Pets can also help to improve socializing skills, especially in the classroom. A study with dogs showed that when dogs are in a classroom, other children can relate to those with autism. They find common ground and a way that they open to each other. A lot of the time they don’t really need to talk, but they gain a new understanding for each other.
People with autism find it difficult to bond with a human. There may be a fear of judgment, or they just don’t know how to communicate. Dogs help to improve a bond. They love their owner or their carer unconditionally. Someone with autism doesn’t feel like they are being picked on or made fun off. They don’t feel like they are completely alien to someone else.
Dogs also tend to work through behavior patterns. Patterns and routines are things that people with autism tend to need. There is a clearer understanding what the dog wants because the person with autism understands that need for the routine.
If you have a child, who tends to bolt at the first chance, having a dog can help to reduce this happening. You can tether your child to the dog’s harness to improve safety. Your child won’t feel like they’re restricted and may actually develop a sense of awareness for the animal instead of giving into the need to run.
There are now service dogs available for those with autism. This is because studies have shown how having this type of pet can be so beneficial. There are also various videos that show how dogs can help people with autism, especially when they are suffering meltdowns due to stressful situations.
Is It Time to Add a Pet to Your Life?
If you don’t already have a pet, you may want to consider getting one in your life. There are just so many ways that you can benefit from one.
This isn’t just about having a dog, although they do tend to offer the most benefits. All types of pets can offer various benefits, whether they help to eliminate stress, depression, or even anxiety and PTSD. They offer a way to improve socialization and reduce that feeling of being isolated.
Pets love unconditionally, and that is the main thing to take away from all this. They don’t care whether you smell or if you have bad teeth. They won’t laugh when you don’t have makeup on or if you are having a fat day. All they care about is how you treat them and that you know they are there to support you when you most need it.
If you have the ability to look after a pet—only do this if you can genuinely care for one—then consider buying one to help support your health. Look for pets that work within your schedule. For example, fish or reptiles can need a little less looking after and attention than dogs, cats, and rabbits. You may find that they are easier to fit into your life.
You won’t regret the health benefits you gain when you add a pet to your life.