How Pets Provide More Than Just Affection and Unconditional Love

When we bring a new pet home, we anticipate lots of snuggles and tail-wagging greetings at the door, but pets provide more than unconditional love. 

1. Having a pet offers physical, emotional, and mental health benefits. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pets can decrease blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, and lower triglyceride levels, especially in hypertensive and high-risk patients. Children who grow up in homes with dogs and cats may even experience less allergies and improved immunity over children who don’t have pets. Because many of our four-legged friends require exercise, pet owners also have plenty of opportunities to engage in frequent physical activity. One of my favorite things to do is take my dog, Ollie, for hikes in the mountains. She loves to bring her stuffed toy along, too, which is usually a conversation starter on the trails. 


2. Pet ownership tends to increase social interaction, as well, whether exploring the wilderness like I do, taking a stroll through the neighborhood, or visiting the local dog park. In fact, one study shows 40% of pet owners receive one or more types of social support (emotional, appraisal, informational, instrumental) through people they have met through their pets. 


3. In addition to physical and emotional benefits, pets can help manage loneliness and depression, particularly because pets provide a sense of security and require a daily routine. Positive human-animal interaction may provide a boost in oxytocin (the feel-good hormone) levels in the brain and may help reduce fear and anxiety.


If you don’t have a pet but are considering getting one, be sure you can properly care for it and afford the expenses that come with pet ownership, like pet food and visits to the vet. Being unable to provide the proper care a pet needs can cause you (and the pet) stress, completely eradicating any of the wonderful benefits pets can give.

The health benefits of pets make it easy to see why dogs (and cats!) are man’s best friend. Tell me, do you have any pets? How does your pet impact your well-being? Share in the comments below!


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