If you’ve ever owned a pet, you probably already know how much fun and love they can bring, but they can also provide a number of mental and physical health benefits.
Studies have found that when compared to non-pet owners, those who have a pet are less likely to suffer from depression, have lower blood pressure in stressful situations and have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels which are the indicators of heart disease.
One of the reasons for these therapeutic effects is that dogs,cats and even reptiles, fulfill the basic human need to touch. Even hardened criminals in prison have shown long-term changes in their behavior after interacting with our furry friends. Stroking, hugging, touching or even simply watching our pets elevates our levels of serotonin and dopamine, which help us to be calm and relaxed.
Pets can bring about a number of healthy lifestyle changes such as – Providing structure and routine to your day, giving both joy and a sense of purpose (particularly if they have come from a rescue centre). They can also provide companionship – helping to reduce loneliness or anxiety and improve self-esteem.
Dogs especially are a great stimulus for healthy exercise, which can substantially boost your mood and improve cardiovascular health, where research has shown dog owners are far more likely to meet their dialy exercise requirements. I should alos point out that many animal rescue centres are open to volunteer dog walkers if you are not able to have a dog in your home.
More than any other animal, dogs have evolved to become acutely attuned to human behavior and emotions. While dogs are able to understand many of the words we use, they’re even better at interpreting our tone of voice, body language, and gestures, as such can be trained to provide assistance to those with a disability, whether physical or metal helping to provide a better qualiy of life for the person.
But it doesn’t stop there….Not only do children who grow up with pets have less risk of allergies and asthma, many also learn responsibility, compassion, and empathy from having pet.
As well as these benefits, owning a pet can have a number of negative impacts to your life, such as allergies, cost, long-term responsibility and time as well as their eventual loss. Each animal will also have it’s own personality and possible behaviour issues which may require additional time training and these should be considered before taking them home. Please also consider Rescue centres, as they offer a number of different pets not just dogs and cats, as well as providing options to adopt or perhaps act as a volunteer dog walker or play carer, so you can still get the same health benefits without as many downsides.