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Health Benefits of Owning a Pet

Owning a pet is not only great for your emotional well-being, it’s great for your health!

It’s common knowledge that furry friends provide companionship and help boost your mood, but they also have numerous proven health benefits. Pets can help decrease depression, stress and anxiety, plus lower blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Not only that, they can boost immunity and decrease the risk of heart attack and stroke!

Owning a dog, by necessity, increases the opportunity for exercise and outdoor activities. You have to take Fido on walks and trips to the park, right? Exercising with your pet, whether it’s walking, hiking, or agility training, means you’ll reap the rewards, such increased mobility!

Not to mention, dogs are a natural conversation starter that can help ease their owners out of social isolation. Mix and mingle with your pet at training classes, dog parks and pet-friendly outdoor cafes to meet new pet-loving friends. After all, studies clearly show that people who have more social relationships tend to live longer and are less likely to show mental and physical declines as they age.

Here are a few more ways owning a pet can make you healthier:

Decreases Depression

Pets provide companionship and can also give their owners a sense of purpose, which can be crucial for those battling depression. Playing with a dog, like any enjoyable activity, will elevate the body’s levels of pleasure-inducing serotonin and dopamine. Both have natural calming properties that can help decrease feelings of sadness and depression.

Relieves Stress

State University of New York at Buffalo researchers found that people experience less stress when completing a stressful task when their pets are with them than when a spouse, family member or close friend was nearby.

Lowers Blood Pressure

Especially in hypertensive or high-risk patients, having a pet has been shown to have the potential to lower blood pressure, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This could be due to the comfort that comes from knowing whatever the stressful situation, you’ll always have the unconditional love of your pet!

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Eases Pain

For those dealing with the chronic pain of arthritis, pets can help relieve pain by reducing anxiety. A Loyola University study found that people who use pet therapy while recovering from surgery may need significantly less pain medication than those who do not.

Lowers Cholesterol

Researchers say male pet owners have lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which can signal heart disease, than those who do not own pets. And heart attack patients who have pets at home tend to have better recovery rates than those without, according to a National Institutes of Health-funded study.

Whether you own a pet or not, the next time you’re around a furry friend, smile and know your health just got a little better.