Can Pets Improve Your Health?
Pet owners will tell you how great it is to have a pet. Pets can be greatly beneficial for your overall physical and mental health. Pets can encourage us to exercise and are great companions to have around. They can add joy and fun to your life.
In fact, pets can be so beneficial that they are used for therapy. Animal assisted therapy can be used for several different issues including depression and PTSD. How do they help with these conditions?
There is research that shows that pets, specifically dogs, can help with depression. This is likely because of several different factors. First, they can help with isolation and loneliness. They are great companions to have around and can help to increase dopamine and oxytocin which can make us feel good.
Pets can also encourage us to socialize which can help us avoid loneliness and isolation that often comes with depression. Face-to-face interaction will also help our symptoms of depression lessen. Animals have evolved with us and are great at understanding our feelings.
Being responsible for a pet provides us with a sense of purpose that may also help us reduce the severity of our symptoms of depression. The responsibility may help to provide us with structure and motivation as well.
Having a pet can promote increased physical activity. We do not usually think of taking a dog for a walk or playing fetch as exercise, but it can help you meet your exercise requirements. Furthermore, it is fun, so it is much easier to fit into your day even when energy or motivation levels are low. The exercise is as great for you as it is for the pet. Exercise also increases endorphins which can help to ward of depression and reduce the severity of related symptoms.
Having a pet may help to reduce your chance of developing heart disease. The research shows that dog owners have lower blood pressure than those who do not own dogs. This may be because of the calming effect that the pet can provide to the owner.
When we pet a dog, our blood pressure drops. There is also evidence that pet ownership can help to reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels. The reasoning behind these effects remains unclear, but it does seem that having a dog can be a part of a heart healthy lifestyle.
An animal can also reduce your stress and anxiety levels. Pets tend to live in the moment and therefore can help to promote mindfulness for their owners. A pet can help to elevate your levels of serotonin and dopamine. This can help us to relax and ease our anxiety.
They may also help with social anxiety. They encourage us to go out in the world and interact with other people. When a pet owner is out and about with their animal, they also tend to attract attention of others who are interested in their pet.
Choosing a Pet
Dogs and cats are popular, but there are benefits of other types of pets as well. For example, watching fish in an aquarium may be good for relaxation and relieve symptoms associated with anxiety. Everybody is different so you need to make sure that you choose the right type of pet for your needs and your lifestyle.
If you do not have very much space, then a dog may not be the best choice. They need room to eat, exercise, play, and sleep. They are also high energy when compared to some other animals like cats or reptiles.
You should also consider the amount of free time you have. If you are away from home most of the day, then you do not want to get an animal that requires substantial attention. You also need to consider noise levels, allergies, shedding, and the cost of vaccinations, food, and more.
Final Thoughts on the Health Benefits of Pets
Having a pet can do a lot for your overall health and wellbeing. Sure, having an animal companion is a big commitment, but it can be worth it. They can bring joy and happiness into your life and reduce your chance of developing heart disease. They can also help you reduce your stress and anxiety levels. Just make sure that you get a pet that works with the space and time that you have available.