Your furry friend’s company entertains you, and warms your lap on a cold night, but pet ownership’s benefits go beyond simple joy and a personal space heater. Many studies have been performed on the health benefits of owning a cat or dog, and the perks you enjoy as a pet owner are almost limitless—including improved physical, mental, and emotional health, and less likelihood of suffering serious illness and disease. Also, if you experience a cardiovascular condition, a life-threatening illness, or cognitive issues, a four-legged companion can help you pull through. 

The Southwest Vet team has always been a huge supporter of pet ownership, but now substantial evidence, and an ever-expanding research institute, promote the human-animal bond as an essential human-wellness component. You no doubt did not need extra reasons to bring a pet into your life, but here are six more.

#1: You are more physically active and fit with a pet

It’s no secret that a pet gets you up and moving much more frequently. You may only get up to let the dog out, then in, then back out, and finally back in again, but you’re more active with a pet in your life. If your canine companion requires moderate to intense exercise sessions to burn off steam, you’ll be hiking, jogging, or swimming with your pooch to ensure they’re happy and fit. You can also participate in doggy sporting activities, such as dock-diving, flyball, agility, or treibball. 

Cats require exercise, too, to avoid becoming a large lump of fluff who may be prone to diabetes, urinary issues, and osteoarthritis. By using a fishing pole toy, feather wand, or teaching tricks, you and your feline friend can engage in daily physical activity for optimal health. 

#2: You are more social with a pet

Pet ownership, particularly dog ownership, forces you to be more social. While out and about with your pooch, you can easily strike up a conversation with dog lovers who will fawn over your pup, and show off their own pictures of their best friend. While you can also bond over your cat at home, owning a dog allows you to participate in a variety of social settings, including:

  • Training classes
  • Campsites
  • Dog parks
  • Outdoor cafes and restaurants
  • Online with social networking sites

Talking about your pet is an excellent icebreaker and introductory topic that will help you meet new people. Most people have pets or enjoy their company, so pet ownership is usually a safe topic. 

#3: You experience a mood boost by being around your pet

When you walk through the door after a tough day at work, a wagging tail, sloppy kiss, or rumbling purr is an instant pick-me-up. Oxytocin, a mood-boosting hormone, is produced when you look into your pet’s eyes, and other feel-good chemicals are emitted when you pet your furry pal. Animal companions have been shown to ward off depression and loneliness among people with AIDS and Alzheimer’s disease. Stressful situations also impact elderly pet owners less than those who do not own pets, as shown by decreased doctor visits during such times. 

#4: Living with a pet as a child will boost your immune system

Children who grow up with furred animals, whether they’re cats, dogs, or large farm animals, are less likely to develop allergies and asthma. Infants who live with a household pet have a decreased risk of developing pet allergies and eczema, and a stronger immune-system activation is evident. 

#5: Owning a pet improves your cardiovascular health

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have conducted cardiovascular-related studies on pet owners. The findings showed that pet owners display decreased blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels, which can all minimize their heart attack risk, while people who have already experienced a heart attack tend to have better recovery rates, if they own a dog or cat. 

Your furry friend boosts your health in a variety of ways, so return the favor, and call us to schedule a wellness exam for your pet. By keeping your four-legged pal in tip-top shape, you can enjoy the health benefits and joy granted by pet ownership for years to come.