Man has been accompanied by pets for many centuries; dating back to the ancient Egyptians and the Greeks and Romans, among many others. Even then, it seemed that they already knew the importance of having pets and how animals could improve our daily lives, whether it was for companionship or a status symbol.
This relationship has blossomed into a beautiful friendship between the two species. From what once was just plain ownership of man over his pet, pet owners are now called pet parents, showing the deep connection that can be achieved by a man and his pet. Today, many ask questions like: “Why are pets good for you?”, “Can pets keep you healthy?”, and “How can pets help you mentally?”; and the list goes on, are often asked. With all the new health complications and external pressures of the world, studies suggest that pets can help your health, both mentally and physically by reducing stress.
To answer why pets are good for you, it’s simple – pets are your #1 companion, whom you can count on whenever. They show affection, are accepting, loyal and consistently seek you, so you are never left all alone. In turn, they boost your mood, help you feel happy and make you more productive. Pets are a long-term commitment and give you a sense of purpose to care for another being. It’s a bond that no one can break!
2. Less Negativity
Pets are a natural mood booster! So, when you’re feeling sad, tired or stressed, make it a point to be around your pet. They’re so cute that they’ll make you feel a lot calmer and less stressed. During this time, physical changes occur in your body; lowering your stress hormone, cortisol and boosting your feel-good chemical, serotonin.
If pets can make you feel calmer and less stressed, you’re probably also wondering if pets can help with depression or how pets help us de-stress at work. The answer is - yes, they can! The unconditional love your pets give is like no other. Your pet will listen to you talk with no limits, won’t judge you and let you pet or cuddle them for comfort. Giving this love in return through playtime, grooming and exercise will also help you feel better because you’ve spent your time being productive.
3. Physical Fitness
Can pets keep you healthy? You might wonder how animals help humans physically and how pets can help you make healthy lifestyle changes. Well, pets help boost your physical fitness because now, you have an exercise buddy! If you’re less active, choose a less active pet; but really, all pets require daily regular exercise, so there’s no escaping it. You can choose form activities like a daily 30-minute walk, playing fetch, jogging, hiking, running and agility training (eg. Obstacle course). By playing an active role in your pet’s physical health, you’ll both be fit and healthy.
4. Healthy Heart
Believe it or not, there’s a strong correlation between keeping a healthy heart and pet parents! Several studies show that owning a pet can help you manage your blood pressure, making pet parents less likely to die from cardiac diseases. This may be because pet owners are more likely to exercise and live an active lifestyle and focus on your pets can help divert your stress, or both.
Take for example one study, wherein children with high blood pressure improved after they petted their dog. Petting or a simple touch satisfies the human need to touch, therefore reducing one’s heart rate. Another study showed that dog pet parents who survived a heart attack and with serious abnormal heart rhythms live longer compared to those who don’t.
5. Social Attention
Engaging and connecting with others is key to staying healthy, and owning a pet will help you do just that. Pet owners, when walking down the streets strutting their pets are more likely to strike a conversation with passersby’s about their pet or with other pet parents; they also tend to convene in certain areas forming instant connections with other pet parents. You can try parks, outdoor restaurants and cafes, online groups, training classes, animal clubs, pet shows and many more. Once you have extended your pet social network, you can set up fun play dates for your furbaby!
6. Allergies, Asthma and Immune System
Most people think that because pets have hair and shed from time to time that they can trigger allergies and asthma and lower one’s immune system. Surprisingly, studies found that babies who were exposed to pets before they turned 6 months old were half less likely to develop allergies and asthma. It even helps boost the immune system.
It’s a common misconception that people are allergic to the fur of pets. People are actually allergic to dander, the tiny sales from animal hair, skin, and feathers. It is also possible to be allergic to the saliva or the urine of pets. That is why, taking care of your pets should be of utmost importance. Exposure to pets early on in a child’s life can make them less reactive to dander and allergens.
Whether or not your pet is a specially trained therapy pet, studies suggest that pets can help in therapy or assist you with your troubles, either physically or emotionally. This helps, especially when you bring specially training animals into hospitals and other clinical settings. Pets and the health impact of a companion such as a pet parent is more likely to yield positive results.
Therapists sometimes use dogs to reveal much about a person or their relationship with others. For example, a therapist who counselled a couple, had a dog who would usually sleep throughout the session suddenly got up and wanted to leave when the couple began to argue. This revealed how their fighting affected others.
Another amazing thing is that animals that help humans with disabilities are able to do so because of their strong sense of smell, which is said to be 10,000 times more accurate than a human person’s, allowing them to stiff chemical changes in the body.
Specially trained dogs can help people with Parkinson’s disease by assisting them with their needs like picking up dropped items, fetch needed items, provide balance support, open and close doors, turn lights on or off, and the best part – they can sense when the person “freezes” and touches their foot to keep walking.
Specially trained dogs can also help those with diabetes. They can sense the sudden drop in the level of blood glucose and alert their owner to eat a snack to prevent an emergency.
Children with autism can also use the companionship and guidance of a pet. Pets help those with autism engage and interact with the outside world. Studies show that when children with autism share a bond with a pet, their level of interaction increases. By simply spending time with pets can also boost your mood and make you feel less anxious.
Buying a pet is a long-term commitment. Pets can do so much to benefit all areas of your health, but do not forget that you also need to love and care for them by providing proper nutrition to keep you both happy and healthy at every life stage.
It is remarkable how can pets help your mental and physical health and how can pets help us to stay healthy. The importance of pets in human life has truly evolved; from a mere status symbol and companion, pets have become well-regarded in today’s society, providing them with rights to protect their wellbeing and a greater sense of purpose. Without pets, society would not be as beautiful as it is today.