Why having a pet is good for your health
Did you know that your guard dog, Rover, is more than just a postman-deterrent? That your cat, bunny or even bird is actually helping you be healthier? You may be surprised at how many ways having a pet is good for your health. In this article, we’ll list ten good reasons you should have a furry (or scaly, or feathery) friend.
It only takes a few minutes interacting with a dog or cat, or watching fish swim around to become calmer. This is because your body goes through physical changes during that time. For example, Cortisol (a stress hormone) lowers, while serotonin (a feel-good chemical in your brain) rises. When these changes occur in your body, your blood pressure also goes down, and oxytocin increases. Oxytocin is the same chemical that is released when mother and baby bond – it creates a sense of comfort and wellbeing.
A pet loves you unconditionally; even if you made a huge mistake at work and had a horrible day, they will listen to you as long as you want to talk. Also, taking care of an animal – walking, feeding, and grooming – helps put things in perspective. They are completely reliant on you for their well-being.
Pets boost your activity
Taking your dog for two walks during the day (15 minutes in the morning and 15 in the afternoon) will make all the difference. And if you have somewhere to play fetch – even better! Pet owners are more active, even if it’s just letting the cat in and out, or playing with your outdoor rabbits.
Cat owners have fewer strokes
Doctors are not sure why this is the case. It is thought to be partly due to the effects of pet ownership on circulation, but it may be because cats have more of a calming effect than other animals. Also, the cat owner’s personality may have something to do with it – they (the cats) often become the focus of the owner’s attention, so the benefits of having an animal could be amplified.
Allergy suppression and stronger immunity
Children that grow up with animals are less likely to have allergies. This is true for both small and large animals – anything from a hamster to a horse!
Cats and asthma prevention
Children that grow up with cats in the house are less likely to develop asthma. Again, it doesn’t seem to make sense, as animal dander is such a big irritant. However, there is a flip side: Children whose mothers have a cat allergy are three times more likely to develop asthma after being around cats at an early age.
Blood sugar alert
Dogs can be trained to sniff out any sugar highs or lows a person living with diabetes may have. It is thought that this is because they can detect changes in body chemistry. About one in three dogs living with people with diabetes have this ability.
Help with better cancer cures
While animals cannot help cure cancer, they may lead us to understand the disease better. This is because dogs and cats can get the same cancer that humans do. For example, prostate cancer in dogs led to a better understanding of how it develops in older men.
People on the autism spectrum often have sensory issues. “Sensory integration activities” help them get used to how something feels or even sights and sounds. Horses are particularly used for these activities. The children find it easier to work with animals, and the animals hold the children’s attention better. This helps them to learn to better interact with people too!
Health benefits of horses
Some rehab programs for stroke patients use horses. Riding a horse gives them much-needed stretching exercises, especially if one side is weaker after the stroke. It also involves a lot of balance work, so riding helps strengthen their core muscles.
With these points in mind, it’s hard to deny that having a pet is good for your health. If you suffer from allergies, getting a rabbit or keeping fish can be a great alternative. And it’s a much nicer way to boost your health than popping supplements all the time!
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