It's always a nice feeling to come home after a long, stressful day of work to a cheerful and loving companion who's excited to see you. We all know that pets can be wonderful mood boosters, provide a sense of comfort, and that they make great company, especially for those who live alone. But did you know that owning a pet can actually be beneficial to your overall health as well?

Anthrozoology is the study of the interaction between humans and animals. There's been a lot of research done in this field, and many signs point to how owning a pet can have a positive impact on your life. So, what are some of the specific ways? We're going to dive into a few! Keep reading!

Ways Your Pet Benefits Your Health

Social Support

an excited dog running to the front door

Owning a pet can provide comfort and companionship to those who may be living alone or struggling with loneliness. Having a loving, furry friend who enjoys spending time with you and allows you to pet and play with them can decrease depression and stress levels. Coming home to an empty house or apartment day after day can be a downer, especially if you're going through a difficult season of life. Animals (dogs and cats especially) are often able to pick up on your mood, sense if you're feeling down, and work to cheer you up or comfort you. For older adults living by themselves, having a pet may actually help them live longer as loneliness can be a contributing factor to illness.

Exercise and Socialization

two people talking with dogs on leash

Another health benefit of pet ownership is that it can allow you to get more exercise and socialization with others. Having a dog, in particular, will give you an excuse to get outside, get some fresh air, and get some movement in during the day. This is another way that owning a pet can help boost your mood and deal with depressive symptoms. Fresh air and activity are great for mental and emotional health as well as your physical health. Having a pet will also give you a sense of motivation and purpose. Because you'll have to feed and let your dog out first thing every morning, this can motivate you to get out of bed and start off your day on the right foot.

Dogs are also great conversation starters! Whether it starts with someone complimenting your pet or your pup excitedly greeting a stranger, dogs can actually be a great tool in meeting new people and even developing new friendships that otherwise might not have been formed!

Safety

Beware Of Dog sign on a fence in front of a home

Owning a pet can also provide you with a sense of safety and security. They can give you peace of mind if you're someone who's living alone. Your pet may be able to sense or alert you of any intruders or anything unusual that's happening around your home. Service or therapy dogs can also be helpful for older adults or people who need extra assistance.

Stress Relief

a lady cuddling with a cat

As mentioned earlier, having a pet can have a positive impact on your mental health, lowering your blood pressure and cortisol levels, which are related to stress. This, in turn, can benefit your physical health since stress and anxiety can lead to numerous health-related problems if not managed properly. Petting, cuddling, and playing with your dog, cat, bird, or other pet for even just a few minutes each day can help you take your mind off your stressful workload or pending deadlines, and just focus on living in the moment.

Risks of Pet Ownership

Of course, nothing goes without risk, and while there are many benefits to owning a pet, there are also some risks that can come along with it.

The first is sanitary risks. Let's face it – pets aren't always clean! However, you need to be aware before adopting a pet that animals can carry harmful parasites. Those with compromised immune systems may be more prone to serious illness that comes with some of these, such as toxoplasmosis, which is a disease that can come from a parasite that cats carry. Animal feces can also contain bacteria that can cause illness. It should also be mentioned that some people end up having allergic reactions to certain animals with symptoms such as itchy eyes, sneezing, or even shortness of breath.

Another thing you need to be aware of before adopting a pet is that pet ownership isn't always easy. So don't commit to giving an animal a home unless you're sure you're up for the challenge. Click here to get tips on overcoming obstacles with shelter pets. It takes hard work and energy to stay on top of giving your pet the proper attention and care it needs, from grooming it to letting it outside to use the bathroom several times per day. Be sure you're able to be active and are mobile enough before adopting a dog in particular, since they will require more exercise than other animals. Properly caring for a pet can able be expensive as you have to buy food and be prepared for any unexpected vet bills that could come up. Be sure you're in a stable enough financial situation before letting a dog or cat into your home.

Conclusion

Although there are risks to keep in mind when it comes to owning a pet, there are more healthy benefits that outweigh the bad. If you're someone who lives alone or is prone to anxiety or depression, a dog or cat could be just what you need! Be sure to consider every aspect before adopting. This will enable you to be sure you can keep your pet happy and healthy so that it can keep your happy and healthy too!

Sources:

  1. https://vet.osu.edu/vmc/companion/owner-information/health-benefits-pet-ownership
  2. https://www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/features/health-benefits-of-pets
  3. https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2018/02/power-pets
  4. https://www.cedars-sinai.org/blog/health-benefits-of-pet-ownership.html
  5. https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/p/pets-and-mental-health
  6. https://www.scvgie.com/services/dogs/blog/mental-health-benefits-pet-ownership

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