There’s a reason dogs are called man’s best friend. Besides companionship and unconditional love, pets offer their owners a host of physical and mental health benefits.
Pets Can Reduce Stress and Anxiety
Research has shown that spending time with pets relaxes both the body and mind. Playing with a pet or even watching others interact with pets releases serotonin and dopamine – the body’s natural anti-depressants, and pet owners show fewer signs of depression.
Pets Can Help You Make Friends and Meet People
Not only do pets offer valuable companionship for their owners, pets also make it easier to connect to other people. Pet owners are more likely to come in contact with people outside the home – for instance on walks, at a dog park or the veterinarian’s office.
Pets Can Lower the Risk of Heart Disease
Research has shown that interaction with pets can lower blood pressure. Pet owners tend to have lower cholesterol levels than non-pet owners. In fact, researchers say the physiological impact of owning a pet is similar to a person changing his diet to include less salt and alcohol. These positive effects are complemented by the increase in exercise and mobility pet ownership usually brings about.
Pets Can Improve Overall Health and Wellbeing
A survey by Medicare revealed that pet owners logged 21 percent fewer doctor visits than those without pets. Pet owners also take fewer medications than non-pet owners and stay more active. A study of nursing homes in New York, Texas and Missouri that include pets as part of their therapy found that medication costs were cut in half after integrating animals into the facility community.