There has been much research done into the ways pets help health. From the obvious, walking a dog provides the necessity for exercise, to more clinical research showing that pet ownership can reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol and aid depression. In this post we share this evidence and offer you the Get and Stay Healthy facts!
The 8 Ways Pets Help Health
Let’s have a look at the 8 ways that pet ownership may help you get healthy and stay healthy!
1. Boost Immunity And Alleviate Allergies.
This may sound strange, but is the reason that many people avoid pet ownership. They are worried about allergies! However this doesn’t need to be the case. Here’s the evidence! One of the functions of our immune system is to seek and find potentially harmful threats that have entered our body. Once identified the immune system releases antibodies on order to combat these perceived threats.
However sometimes our body overreacts and harmless substances are categorized and considered dangerous. The immune system kicks in and reacts and we get an allergic reaction. For this reason people think pets may trigger these allergic reactions. However the research shows that living with a pet during the first year of life cuts the probabilities of developing pet allergies later in life and also lowers the risk of developing asthma.
A 2017 study based on newborns who lived with cats found that they had a lower risk of developing childhood asthma, bronchiolitis and pneumonia. Another research study shows that living with a pet as a child actually increases and improves the function of our immune system. A further research study focused on college students and petting a dog. The results found that when stroking a dog for 18 minutes it raised the level of immunoglobulin A (IgA) produced in saliva. This evidence is clinical proof that petting a dog leads to a robust immunity and system.
2. Help Boost Mood And Aid Depression.
Pet ownership, or even occasional pet companionship, helps to resolve loneliness and can increase personal happiness. Owning a dog ensures that you engage with life, you need to take them on walks, be responsible for their wellness, buy food, keep them healthy and all these aspects of pet ownership help keep us focused and stable. Research on pets and emotional health show positive indications that pet therapy helps depression and other mood disorders.
3. Pets and Stress Reduction.
Stress causes our body to go into fight or flight mode. This means our body releases hormones such as cortisol which increases the level of blood sugars and epinephrine which, in turn, causes our heart rate to elevate. This may have been great for our ancient predecessors who used these releases to avoid predators or fight competitors.
The problem is that in our modern world, if we live in a constant state of fight or flight, the stress takes a physical toll on our body. It raises our risk of heart disease, increases susceptibility to infectious disease and may contribute to depression. Research has shown that the psycho-social and psycho-physiological effects of pet ownership slows the release of stress hormones and slows the heart rate.
Pet ownership, or regular contact with a pet, has been shown through research to lower our anxiety levels and can elevate our feeling of peace and calm. Studies show that dogs help to ease both stress and loneliness in senior citizens, and help to achieve a state of calm in college students before examinations.
How Pets Help Health In Facts
4. Pets help lower Cholesterol.
Research has shown that Pet Owners, most likely due to the exercise, have far better heart health, lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol than non pet owners!
5. Pets Increase Feelings of Love.
Being in the same environment with your pet has a calming effect on the body. Oxytocin, the so called “love hormone”, is released when we stroke our pets. In fact research has shown that our levels of oxytocin increase just looking at our pets! That’s why when you look at your best friend you have those wonderful feelings of joy.
6. Pets lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Lower cholesterol, less stress, and reduced blood pressure levels, when combined with additional physical activity, increases our personal fitness which in turn reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease. Studies have shown that of those people who suffered a heart attack there was a 60% increase in first year survival for pet owners.
7. How Pets help our emotional health.
Pets provide socialization opportunities and also individual support to their owners. The British Psychological Society found that pets, dogs in particular, promoted therapeutic and psychological well being as well as lowering stress and improving self esteem. It was noted that pet owners tended to be happier in their life and had higher self confidence than non pet owners.
8. Pets help Health as we age.
Owning a pet offers companionship to the elderly, and is seen as one of the contributing factors to better health as we age. The companionship allows feelings of love and support and decreases loneliness. Pet ownership also provides the elderly with more opportunity for exercise and is particularly of benefit if suffering with illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis and may even help prevent the onset of osteoporosis. Research shows that Alzheimer’s patients have much fewer anxiety attacks and aggressive outbursts if they are in an environment which has pets.
And there we are! I hope you have enjoyed our post about how pets help health. So if you want to get healthy and stay healthy, Get a Pet!