How Owning a Pet Benefits YOUR Health

how owning a pet benefits your health

Pet owners know just how important pets are to their life – but did you know your relationship with your pet goes both ways? There are a number of beneficial reasons to own a pet, but studies have indicated owning the right type of pet can be key.

For those considering bringing a pet into their home, keep these great benefits in mind.

Pet ownership positively impacts a number of aspects of your health

The CDC reports a number of health benefits of owning pets including:

  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Decreased cholesterol levels
  • Decreased triglyceride levels
  • Decreased feelings of loneliness

Notice that the linked CDC article above points out the necessary steps you should take to keep yourself healthy around your pets. While pets have their benefits, it is important we maintain a healthy atmosphere for both humans and pets by taking the proper pre-cautions. 

A study by the American Heart Association in 2013 found an association between pet ownership and reduced heart disease risk factors and greater longevity. Additional information studied by Harvard Health discovered this is true primarily with dogs while other animals (like cats) do not have sufficient evidence to support this claim.

Increases opportunities to get outside

Owning a dog can increase your opportunities to exercise, get outside, and socialize. The fresh air can positively impact you but those looking to own more home-bound pets may find it difficult to get outside. In recent years “pet strollers” have risen in popularity allowing owners of other pets to get out to exercise themselves, but this is not for everyone.

With the increased motivation to walk that comes with owning a dog, a study in Japan discovered that adults who owned a dog were 54% more likely to meet their government recommended step goal than those who did not own a dog. Extra exercise can decrease blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Pets in our Hospitals and Classrooms

Early studies have examined the role dogs could play in the hospital or the classroom. Dogs have played a therapy role in hospital settings for some time, but advancing research on how to do this safely, in a manner that minimizes germs is ongoing.

Newer research has examined how dogs may help children with ADHD concentrate in the classroom. The early hypothesis is that dogs help children with ADHD stay focused, engage in class discussion, and decrease behavioral issues.

What if I can not care for a dog right now?

Owning a dog (or any pet for that matter) can be a big commitment both to your time and your finances. Plus if you rent your living space, your landlord may not allow you to have a dog. But there are still ways you can spend time with pets – even if it does not mean bringing them home with you.

Consider volunteering at an animal shelter, such as the Tri-County Humane Society. Many animal shelters are always seeking volunteers (teens included) to help care for the pets they have at the shelter. This exposure to pets can help you discover what type of pet is best for you when you are ready for pet ownership as well as give you the opportunity to possibly walk some of the dogs at the shelter.

If this does not work for you either, make a personal commitment to walk more and find another motivator to do so.