Pets and Your Health: 6 Ways Pets Can Add More Years to Your Life

Posted on September 13 2018

Have you ever noticed how much better you feel when you are around your pet? Your mood is lifted, your stress is down, and your anxieties are temporarily tamed. It's true. Spending quality time with your pet can have a positive impact on your overall health and wellbeing, and can even add years to your life! 

Researchers have studied the correlation between those who own pets, and those who don't. Studies have shown that pet owners, on average, were much better off than non pet owners, for the simple fact that pets can be calming stress fighters. The ways that pets can help your health vary depending on your connection to your pet. For some, playing ball or frisbee in the park on a warm, sunny day can help them feel connected to their pet, while others, who may not be able to get outside, simply petting your animal can help create a meaningful relationship as well. 

But, there are so many more positive ways that pets can improve your health. We've composed a list of our top 6 favorite ways of how pets can add more years to your life!

Top 6 Ways Pets Can Improve Your Health and Wellness

1. A Healthier Heart

Yes, it's true! Your pet, specifically dogs, may make you less likely to develop heart disease! Why? Dog owners walk more and have lower blood pressure than people who do not have dogs. Lower cholesterol, stress, and blood pressure levels combined with increased fitness adds up to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. If you already have heart problems, pets can still be good for you, too! Studies show that heart attack survivors and people with serious abnormal heart issues live longer just by owning a dog, rather than people with the same heart problems, who don't have any pets. In fact, doctors note that there are fewer annual visits for elderly people who have dogs! This theory is supported by the American Heart Association.

2. Stress Soothers and Stress Fighters

By simply petting your cat or dog, your mood can instantly change. It can lower your blood pressure by releasing a relaxation hormone called oxytocin, thus cutting down on levels of a stress hormone called cortisol. The bond between a human and animal is quite unique, and more often than not, can be lifechanging, as people who own a pet are found to have less stress and incidence of depression. This is especially true of elderly people, and recent widows, as they are shown to use less medication and have fewer symptoms of any type of illness than those who don't own a pet. Dog owners especially report being as emotionally connected to their pet as to their closest family members.

3. Increased Socialization

Pets, especially dogs, can help your connect with other people. The level of comfortability changes between people when they have pets. Owning a pet creates an acceptable interaction, as pets easily contribute to conversations and help us to relate more easily to others. Researchers show that people who use wheelchairs, or have other physical disabilities say that other people tend to make eye contact with them more often, and ask if they can be of help when they're with their dogs. Pets also create a positive impact in the socialization of children. When surrounded with pets, children have positive attitudes about themselves, boosting their own abilities to relate to others.  

4. Better Mood, More Meaningful Life

It's no secret that pets can make you a happier person. In addition to being more positive and happy, people with pets are generally more trusting, open, less lonely, have higher self-esteem, and see a large decrease in depression. This type of therapy is known as the "four-pawed therapy" because pets are the masters of unconditional love and acceptance. They are always there waiting for you. They don't care about appearance, they don't see failings or disabilities; instead, they see our invisible wounds and look beyond them. They love us as is, and ask for nothing in return, which brings a huge boost in our mental health. All it takes is a half hour to be in the company of an animal to improve feelings of happiness and wellbeing. Pets bring a purpose in life and give us another reason to live.

5. Fitness Boosters

A dog is honestly the best companion for a walk - even more so than a friend. Dog walkers are found to have improved their fitness more than people who walked with other people. A study also was conducted on the time spent walking, and found that dog owners walked 300 minutes a week on average, while people who didn't own dogs, walked only 168 minutes a week. Dog owners are also 54% more likely to meet the recommended levels of physical activity.

Also, it's important to note that pets ease chronic pain. Having an animal around the house can help distract from chronic pain. Petting an animal releases endorphins, which are the same hormones that give a "runner's high", and they are powerful pain relievers. Hospitalized patients who had a visit from an animal reported less pain simply from one visit. Loyola University Chicago researchers found that people who underwent joint replacement surgery used less pain medicine when they received pet therapy, and one study found that patients hospitalized for heart failure, had improved cardio functioning when visited by a dog. The simple task of caring for a pet can also be a positive distraction for people in pain.

6. Pets = A Perfect Match for Children and Families

    

In an interesting study published in Clinical and Experimental Allergy, children who were exposed to pets before they were six months old were less likely to develop allergic diseases, hay fever, and eczema as they got older. In the first year of life, babies who are exposed to pets in the household are more likely not to have allergies, asthma, and fewer upper respiratory infections. By being exposed to dander and allergens at an early age, children may be less reactive to them over time. Children who have been raised around farm animals, dogs, or cats typically have stronger immune systems and a reduced risk of developing asthma or eczema.

Pets also bring families closer together. Whether your children take turns walking the dog or changing the litter box, research has proven that having a pet is good for the whole family. Pets can be a natural, important bridge between family members. Additionally, children often have their first experience with loss through animals, which is a teachable moment. Pets can provide the ultimate learning experience, as kids learn how to treat others with kindness, caring, and responsibility.

Bonus: Pets Monitor Health Changes & Aid in Safety 

Pets are extremely sensitive to their owners' behavior, which can be very helpful for those with serious medical conditions, such as diabetes. For example, some animals can sense plummeting blood sugar levels before their owners can! When diabetics get low blood sugar, they can develop ketoacidosis, which changes the smell of their breath. Dogs can pick up on that scent change. It's not in the innate ability of every dog, but they can be trained to do that. 

Pets also are very intuitive when it comes to their owners' safety. Usually, a pet can sense if their owner is in danger before anything even occurs. Pets have a distinct way of warning others, and will lead their owner(s) to safety. 

So, there you have it! If you've had any doubts about adding a furry therapist into your home, don't! The benefits far outweigh the doubts and expenses. In a world full of chaos and turmoil, pets are truly the one consistent source of joy and happiness, and couldn't everyone use a little more of both? Be a blessing to an animal today, and let that animal bring you blessings back. You won't regret it. 

Here at Mountainside Medical Equipment, we take pride in serving our wide variety of customers, including our furry friends! Please visit our Veterinary Care page to see all of the latest products for your four legged friend! As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to call 1-888-687-4334 to speak with one of our friendly and knowledgeable customer service representatives!