Pets are wonderful companions that can bring people great happiness. These furry friends have a lot more to offer their owners than you may have expected. Although not a replacement for diet and exercise, playing with and petting your pet has many remarkable health benefits that go far beyond enjoying a walk. Here are 8 surprising benefits of owning a pet:
- Lower Blood Pressure: Pets can significantly reduce your blood pressure and help you keep it in check. Just the simple and relaxing act of petting your cat or dog can reduce stress, hypertension and lower your blood pressure. In turn, this will help reduce the risk of a heart attack and heart disease.
- Decrease Depression: Owning a pet can decrease depression by improving your mood and bringing you a great deal of happiness. Pets are also wonderful, nonjudgmental listeners, who will let you vent as long as petting is involved. They will help keep you company and keep your mind off of whatever is bothering you and calm you down.
- Reduce Visits to the Doctor: On average, people who own pets make fewer visits to the doctor because they're generally less stressed and more active than people who don't have pets. This is a huge money-saving benefit and convenience for patients.
- Lower Cholesterol: In addition to a heart-healthy diet and regular exercise, people can lower their bad cholesterol levels by owning a pet. One reason for this positive health effect is that people who have pets are more likely to be active and exercise regularly. And lower cholesterol means a lower chance of heart disease and other health complications.
- Prevent Asthma and Allergies: It may seem strange, but families can actually protect their children from developing allergies and asthma by exposing them to animals at an early age. Research suggests that children may develop immunity to these diseases when exposed to pets. Even children raised on farms are less likely to have asthma or allergies.
- Reduce Antisocial Behavior: Pets can help their owners come out of their shells and reduce antisocial behavior in many ways. Dog owners have more opportunities to interact socially with others just by going for walks or visiting dog parks. Pets are also great conversation starters and may be the very topic that leads you into a new friendship or relationship.
- Speed Up Recovery: Pets can help their owners make a speedy recovery after a major illness or surgery, as well as improve their chances of survival. Not only do they provide a great deal of support and happiness during the recovery stages, but pets, especially dogs, get their owners up and moving for walks and playtime. This increased activity can help owners recover faster and take more responsibility for their health.
- Decrease Anxiety and Stress: Pets can help humans reduce their anxiety and stress through companionship and physical contact. Research shows that playing with your cat or dog reduces blood pressure and the companionship provided by a pet has been linked to significant psychological benefits.