About 62 percent of American households have at least one pet. It’s no wonder so many of us prefer to have a furry friend around—they’re our buddies, our companions, an excellent source of comedy, and so much more. But did you know that owning a pet is actually good for you? Here are 4 health benefits of owning a pet:
1. Decrease in Blood Pressure
Most people who struggle with high blood pressure look to medication, diet, and exercise, but there’s another often overlooked way to lower blood pressure: the companionship of a furry friend. The unconditional support and love people feel from their pets helps lower their blood pressure by decreasing stress levels. In one study, hospitalized heart patients who were visited by dogs saw their blood pressure decrease by 10 percent. But patients who received human visitors actually saw their blood pressure rise, which makes sense—dogs don’t require the same level of interaction as humans, meaning their presence can often be more soothing than a human’s. If you already have a pet, thank him or her for helping lower your blood pressure. If you struggle with high blood pressure and don’t own a pet, it might be time to think about getting one.
2. Immunity and Allergies
Kids who grow up in homes that have furry pets miss significantly less school than children in pet-less homes, which means that kids with pets don’t get sick as often. Early childhood exposure to pets is also associated with a decrease in life-long allergies, asthma, and eczema. People used to think that early exposure to pets (and all the dust, dirt, and fur that comes with them) would trigger allergies in children, but it turns out that this exposure actually strengthens kids’ immune systems, which translates into better health for the rest of their lives.
3. Depression, Anxiety, Stress Relief
When you’re feeling down, it often seems like the world is out to get you—or worse, is utterly indifferent to you. It’s difficult to feel that way, however, when you have an ever-adoring dog excited to see you every time you walk through the door. For this reason, it makes sense that, according to numerous studies, pets are seriously effective in battling depression, anxiety, and stress. You don’t even have to necessarily own a pet; the simple act of petting a dog or cat for a short period of time can help release feel-good chemicals in your brain. If it’s not feasible for you to get your own pet, consider volunteering at an animal shelter to get that animal contact. If you really want to commit to being around pets all the time (and reap the benefits of their company), there are several job possibilities in veterinary offices, such as front desk clerk or veterinary tech. Read More: 8 Kinds Of Volunteer Work With Animals
4. Motivation to Get Active
We all know that regular exercise is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle—what better motivation to get active than a dog that needs exercise every day? Whether it’s taking a stroll around the block or going on an all-day hike, dogs make excellent exercise buddies. When you see how much they love getting outside and moving around, you’ll feel more enthusiastic about being active, too. Check Out: Dog Treadmills
If your dog has helped you in any of these ways, click the "like" button at the top.
About the guest author: Julie Lee is a writer in Santa Cruz, California who loves pets of all shapes and sizes. She recommends enrolling in veterinary tech program as a possible career path for anyone with an equally gregarious love for animals.
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