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11 Ways Pets Improve Our Health

By on May 16, 2017

We all know that feeling- our pets gently (or not so gently) wake us up in the morning, smile at us as we cuddle, or thank us for being their companions. It’s one reason we love animals so much. But did you know that there are actual, measured and verified ways in which animals improve our health and well-being?

The pup pictured to the right is Sven. He’s a resident therapy dog at Children’s Hospital in Omaha. Forty hours a week, Sven helps patients by boosting positive feelings and providing a bit of distraction from the sometimes very serious health issues patients are faced with.

What’s more, the health professionals at Positive Health Wellness have shared the following information on how pets can improve our health and we’re glad to share it! Read the 11 ways that pets help us live healthier from Positive Health Wellness below. For a complete look at the research and findings, click here. And read a feature on Sven from Pets in Omaha here.

  • Petting animals releases happy hormones, reduces stress- this is no secret and pet owners feel these things every day. Ever wonder why service dogs often visit hospitals, other care centers, schools, and people in peril? Now you know!
  • Talking to pets is beneficial- the great thing pets are capable of that not all humans are is unconditional love. You can talk to them without judgments in return, you can speak on anything you need to in order to work it out, and they are great listeners!
  • Pets help us improve physical health- most pets love activity. Whether it’s just horsing around or going for a run with your dog, pets have a lot of energy and require you to be active and ready to play all the time.
  • Pets make us feel more important- there’s something about being a caregiver to another sentient being that is rewarding and sacred. Their lives are in our hands and there’s nothing more important to that. Whether it’s an aging parent, a baby, or a newborn puppy or kitty, we take pride in helping, nurturing, and caring which, in turn, elevates our feelings of self-worth.
  • Pets support our mental health, reduce depression risks- see the petting/hormones point above. Also, there are many things that contribute to one’s depression. Loneliness, boredom, helplessness, hopelessness, and more. A pet can keep you company, bring joy to your life, demand you to be active, and require reliance from their owners. All of these things can boost a mood like no medicine can.
  • You’ll never be lonely- again, see above. Unless you’ve got a kitty who lives under the bed, your pet is likely around you, out and about, or looking for something from you all the time. Regardless of whether you’ve got a lap dog or a singing bird, your pets love being with you.
  • Pets provide a release- between enjoying a leisurely stroll, playing in the yard, wrestling in the living room, and simply hanging out, your pets are always there to help you escape and just be. Enjoy the outdoors with them. Cuddle on the couch with them. Run your tails off. There are many ways pets can help you find a happier place.
  • Pets reduce allergy risks- one would assume that having pets around small children would be detrimental to breathing, allergies, and more. Research, however, shows that kids that are around animals at a young age actually develop a stronger immune system and resistence to certain allergies. Just another perk to have a pet!
  • Pets improve your chances at weight loss- not only will you be more active, increasing your weight loss chances, you’ll also have that “Other” around who needs you to be the best you can be. Lose for yourself and lost for those who need you. A healthy pet owner is better than one restricted by physical and preventable ailments.
  • Pets help children care and socialize- like the allergy note above, pets can help kids in becoming caring, kind, and social.
  • Pets benefit those on the autism spectrum- another example of how pets can benefit health and especially the mental part of it. Service dogs who visit classrooms have a job to do and when they do it, kids are calmer, happier, and more attentive. As they help all kids in numerous ways, pets are there to help all kinds of people. Specific needs, like those of people on the spectrum, can be met by animals in ways that humans need to see to believe.

These are but a few ways that animals help humans. For a more comprehensive list of benefits, be sure to check out the article linked to above from Positive Health Wellness.

About Eric Forrest

Eric is a pet lover, bookworm and dad. He's had 5 family dogs, 4 cats, a cottontail rabbit he nursed back to health, and two ducks. Cats are his preference, but Eric loves all little critters.

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