Nothing melts your heart quite like the gaze of a fluffy puppy. But did you know that puppies don’t just melt your heart, but also improve your heart’s health? Owning a pet decreases your risk of cardiovascular disease and can even lead to longer survival after a heart attack. Pets are little first aid kits with four legs. They significantly improve both the psychological and physiological health of their owners.
Psychological Benefits of Owning a Pet
Nowadays, it’s widely known that pets reduce depression and anxiety, but did you know that they do so by providing almost immediate stress relief? Stroking an animal quickly releases serotonin and dopamine, allowing your mind to relax. There are also several lesser-known psychological benefits from owning a pet, including strengthened emotional intelligence and boosted self-esteem. Pets especially increase emotional intelligence in children as they teach them how to care and show empathy for a living being. Even for adults, caring for another being adds structure and meaning to life. Pets also promote responsibility, which results in improved behavior overall. The unconditional love of a pet works wonders for self-esteem. No matter what goes wrong during the workday, pets are eager to greet their owners at the door. Pets can even improve the quality of their owners’ social interactions. They motivate their owners to leave the house more often, and they make a great conversation starter. Pets also improve the relationships among household members as they provide a common interest and require everyone to work together to care for them.
Physical Perks of Owning a Pet
More surprising than the emotional benefits that pets provide are the physical benefits. Dogs in particular require their owners to get more exercise through daily walks, playtime, or visits to the park. The increased physical activity (along with the stress-relieving component of owning a pet) ultimately lowers cholesterol and decreases a person’s likelihood of cardiovascular disease or a stroke. The endorphins released while petting an animal can also distract from chronic pain. And believe it or not, children that grow up in households with pets are less likely to develop allergies.
Animals also possess heightened senses and have been known to alert owners of low blood sugar and cancer. Studies show that pet owners make 30% fewer visits to the doctor over their lifetimes. Specialized training can even teach some animals to detect seizures or perform CPR. Simply put, pets don’t just improve the quality of your life—they improve longevity.