“Animals are such agreeable friends – they ask no questions; they pass no criticisms.” ~George Eliot
Furry friends not only offer fantastic company, but they also teach us compassion and offer unconditional love. After a long, stressful day at work, getting greeted by an overexcited four-legged friend can reduce your stress and put a smile on your face.
That’s not all! Pets offer a plethora of benefits for your health and well-being. Let’s take a closer look at these benefits:
Five ways your pet can boost health and well-being
#1. Lowered risk of allergies
“Childhood asthma is one of the major concerns throughout the world.”
According to a report by AAFA 2015, “About 6 million children under the age of 18 with asthma. i.e., 1 in 12 children suffers from asthma.”
Pet ownership can help in lowering the risk of allergies and asthma, particularly among children. There are studies that show exposure to dogs during early life may protect against eczema and reduce asthma symptoms in childhood.
According to a Medical News Today report,” dog exposure during the first year of life was linked with a 13% lower risk of asthma when the child was school-aged.”
Such studies support the “hygiene hypothesis” – that greater exposure to pathogens and potential allergens at an early age can strengthen the immune system increasing tolerance to allergies in later life.
#2. Reduced anxiety and stress
According to a report published in the NBCNEWS, “Children with pet dogs had lower levels of the “stress hormone” cortisol when they interacted with their four-legged companions, compared with children who did not actively engage with their dog.”
Too much stress not only affects your mental health but also your physical wellness. Petting or playing with animals increases levels of the stress-reducing hormones oxytocin’ and reduces the levels of cortisol (stress hormone).
3. Better heart health
According to the World Health Organization, “An estimated 17.9 million people died from CVDs in 2016, representing 31% of all global deaths. Of these deaths, 85% are due to heart attack and stroke.”
Most of us know – good lifestyle choices including a healthy diet, regular workout, and meditation are the key factors to reducing the risk of heart disease.
But did you know that your pet can help protect your heart health, too?
According to a study published in AHA, “Owning a pet – particularly a dog – may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. Moreover, researchers found that pet-owning patients with high blood pressure could keep their blood pressure lower during times of mental stress than patients without pets.”
#4. Improved mental health
“Around 450 million people currently suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.”
Bipolar disorder, depression, and schizophrenia are the most common mental illnesses. Owning a dog can help with mental illness. Dogs are popular for offering great companionship, resulting in a reduction of stress and anxiety.
Studies have shown that beloved animal companions can help cope-up from depression. Due to this, many organizations consider animal-assisted therapy as an effective treatment for depression and other mental illnesses.
#5. Improved sleep
According to a report published in MNN, “Half of U.S. dog owners share the bed with their pets that helps them sleep better.”
Allowing your dog to sleep with you on your bed can offer companionship and help you relax.
A similar study published by University of Alberta researchers found that having pets in bed can help people with chronic pain sleep better, while also easing feelings of loneliness and anxiety. “They liked the physical contact with their dogs—cuddling before bed, and how it distracted them from feeling anxious about being alone at night. They felt more relaxed and safer so they weren’t anxious as they were trying to sleep.”
Dogs are a part of our everyday life. They not only offer us companionship but also offer emotional support, reduce our sense of loneliness, our stress levels, and increase our social activities. So if you haven’t adopted a dog yet, go get one.