Why Are Pet Owners so Healthy?
By Zosia Ridley
The quote “a dog is man’s best friend” is so popular it need not be explained, but dogs aren't the only animals people have come to form immense bonds with. Although it’s no surprise that dogs and cats are the most popular pets to own, reptiles, fish, and small mammals like hamsters and guinea pigs are also in the top 5 most owned pets in the US. A 2020 survey from the American Pet Products Association shows that 85 million households have at least one pet. Not only are these creatures funny and cute to look at, but the effects they have on our mental health are worth noting.
Given that the animal behaves, there are a variety of health benefits associated with owning pets. The most prominent one, being a decrease in stress. A study shows that when completing a stressful task, people actually experience less stress when a pet is with them than when with a close friend or even a spouse. This is probably due to the fact that while pets mainly spend their time observing their surroundings, humans tend to judge.
Not only that, but many people find a decrease in blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and triglyceride levels; all issues that can lead to heart disease and stroke. These illnesses are no stranger to individuals in the US; heart disease being the leading cause of death, while stroke being the fifth leading cause.
The amount of social support that animals bring to our lives is very significant, and especially for people living alone, they give a sense of purpose. Individuals suffering from depression and/or other mental illnesses often feel a lack of motivation and a sense of directionlessness. Having and caring for an animal offers a sense of purpose and ignites a drive to get things done. This affection, both to and from your pet, gives a feeling of joy and renewal to one's daily life. Pets encourage us to do healthy things as well like exercise, enjoy nature, and become better at bonding and building relationships.
Pets offer us unconditional love and attention, feelings that are worth so much in life. Animals never fail to put smiles on our faces and the faces of those they cross paths with. From the moment we get them and in the years we get to spend with them, there's no denying that you will never feel alone when with your pet.
Links to Sources: