5 health benefits to pet ownership
Health Insurance Insights | 06-13-19

5 health benefits to pet ownership

Having a pet can be great for your health

As pet owners know, the benefits of owning a pet are greater than just the cuddles and unconditional love. There are actually several health benefits associated with owning a pet. Your little furballs can increase the opportunities we have to exercise, go outside, and to socialize. Regular walking or playing with pets can decrease blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and triglyceride levels. For those with more low key pets, they can help manage loneliness and depression by giving us companionship. Whether you have a cat, a dog, or something more exotic, having a pet as part of your family can make you healthier overall.

Greater Fitness

While your pet cat or fish might not lead to more motivation to exercise, those who have a K9 in the family could be more physically fit. Dogs can act as the perfect personal trainer, if only because most of them need and crave exercise to stay healthy themselves. Most dogs need multiple walks a day to properly manage their energy and weight. Going for a walk with your furry friend can easily help you reach the recommended 30 minutes a day of elevated heart rate that is recommended by the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Research conducted by the (National Institute of Health (NIH) also supports this claim -- including one study of more than 2,000 adults, which found that dog owners responsible for walking their pups are less likely to be obese than dog owners who pass the duty off to someone else or those who don't own dogs at all.

Reduced Stress and Blood Pressure and Heart Health

You may already be well aware of the calming effects of hanging out with your little furry friend. But those effects are not just psychological. The CDC and the NIH have both conducted heart-related studies on people who have pets. The findings showed that pet owners exhibit decreased blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels -- all of which can ultimately minimize their risk for having a heart attack down the road. For those who have already experienced a heart attack, research also indicates that patients with a dog or a cat tend to have better recovery rates. These benefits are thought to be connected with pets' tendency to help reduce or at least control their owners' overall stress levels.

Mental Health

Who would’ve guessed that pets can be a great way to beat the blues. Not only are they known to they offer unconditional love, but they may also give their owners a sense of purpose, which can be crucial for those feeling down in the dumps. Pets also combat feelings of loneliness by providing companionship, which can boost your overall mood and even bring you feelings of joy and happiness. This is particularly apparent among those who may have chronic illness and seniors. The benefits are so stark that many hospitals and nursing homes regularly bring in therapy animals to visit their patients.

Reduced Risk of Allergies in Kids

University of Wisconsin-Madison has released a number of studies that show that having a pet in the home can severely lower a child's likelihood of developing related allergies by as much as 33 percent. His research shows that children exposed early on to animals tend to develop stronger immune systems overall.

While this might not mean much for adults who are already struggling with longstanding allergies, it can be good news for those who are starting a family and do not already have an allergic family member.

Time Management

Ever notice how some people are just more on top of it than you? Always on time, and able to juggle multiple projects at once. A pet at home may just help you be just as prepared. Especially in their younger ages, pets are more obedient when certain activities happen at certain times: eating, playing, bathroom breaks, walking, running, crating, and the like. If you’re someone who wants to add more structure in your life but don’t know how, try hanging the new habit you want for yourself onto the pup’s routine for a double win. For instance, allow the task of filling the water bowl in the morning to be a trigger for prioritizing your tasks for the day.

But Wait

All this being said, having a pet is not for everyone. Before adopting a new pet, make sure that it is the right one for you and your family. If you are living somewhere temporarily or unable to fit a pet into your hectic lifestyle, both you, and the potential pet would be better off without adoption. There are some things you should consider before you ever head to the shelter. How long will this animal live? What does the pet eat? How much exercise does the pet need? How large will it become? How much will it cost for veterinary care (a great way to hedge your costs for veterinary costs is pet insurance)? Do I have enough time to properly care for and clean up after the pet? Are pets allowed in my house, apartment, or condominium? If you can’t answer all of these, and make a commitment to keep your pet through its life, it may be a better idea to just steer clear.

Disclaimer: this article does not constitute medical advice

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