How Pets Can Aid To A Healthy Life

Posted On Aug 19, 2017 By Erin Kuh, MBA, RD

How Pets Can Aid To A Healthy Life

They're loyal, always happy to see us, and are some of the best listeners around (since they can't talk back!). But just because pets make great companions, can Fido or Fee-fee help you live a longer, healthier, happier life?

The answer is undeniably yes, and the research proves it, in particular for pets of the canine variety. Even the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) reports the numerous benefits of having a pet include decreasing blood pressure, cholesterol, and decreased feelings of loneliness and social isolation. Add to that dogs, especially, require walks and getting outside, consequently increasing physical activity of dog owners.

Additionally, a study in the journal Science demonstrated that oxytocin, a hormone making us feel happy and relaxed, increases when a dog and human owner make eye contact. This helps lower or manage stress levels, and keeping stress in check has numerous health benefits.

Stronger Immune Systems and Fewer Allergies

Households with dogs and children show lower incidence of allergies to animals and stronger immune systems in general because animals carry additional germs and bacteria, both good and bad, that play a role in developing immune systems.

Anxiety and PTSD

Our furry four-legged friends are used to sniff out certain types of cancer, used in pet therapy for the elderly, and as service dogs for the blind and even people suffering from anxiety and PTSD. Dogs are one of the most effective therapies for some people with anxiety and PTSD, with none of the unwanted side effects from medications.

Pets and Aging

Social isolation is common among the aging population. While pets can be a potential fall hazard and cause their owners injury, they also provide amazing companionship, give owners a sense of purpose and responsibility, and as mentioned before help keep them physically active, all of which are major concerns for the elderly.

Pets obviously come with great responsibility but their overall mental and physical health benefits for young and old alike (once they're properly trained!) is fascinating and more than worth the trade-off for having to buy a pooper-scooper and lint roller.

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