8 unexpected health benefits of having a pet

Pets can help reduce stress and strengthen your immune system. (Rawpixel pic)

You probably know the joy of being greeted by your pet at the end of a tiring day. Their happy and calming presence can elevate your mood and lower your stress in a matter of seconds.

What you maybe weren’t aware of are other, very specific physical and psychological advantages that your pet provides.

Here are eight main benefits of having an animal companion in your life.

1. Reduces stress

It is well established that pets play a huge part in managing high levels of stress, like PTSD or other kinds of anxiety disorders. People that experience daily stress at work have reported a decrease of stress after introducing a pet into their life.

This is not limited to only household pets. Animals (mostly dogs) have also been trained and brought to hospitals and rehabilitation facilities. For all of those reasons, it is no wonder animals play a crucial role in therapy and therapeutic practices.

2. Strengthens immune system and prevents allergies

This is not about preventing allergies in adults. Getting a pet later in life will not have any impact on already existing allergies.

Studies conducted by Pet Fashion Week have shown that children who grow up in households with pets have better chances of developing a stronger immune system and resistance to allergies.

Exposure to animal-related dirt and hair from an early age can help build immunity against pet bacteria and protect them later in life.

3. Helps with social interaction

It is not easy for everyone to engage in social interaction, even (or maybe especially) when it comes to small talk. Your pet can be a perfect conversation starter!

Walking your dog around the neighbourhood increases your chances of establishing social communication. You might think this benefit refers exclusively to dog owners, but that is not the case.

Pets can often become your most trusted confidante and soulmate. (Rawpixel pic)

Obviously, it is easiest for dog owners to form social connections on their daily walks but there are other ways to connect to other like-minded people.

For example, posting photos of your pets on social media is a simple and effective way to start up a discussion.

It is also known to improve the social skills of autistic children. Service dogs are trained to aid and, in this case, even calm the child down if necessary.

But other pets like cats and rabbits can also help them to communicate and bond with others more easily.

4. Acts as a best buddy for kids and older people

A pet can have a positive impact on the emotional growth of children by helping improve their social skills. Caring for a pet also teaches children routine, responsibilities and focus.

The elderly meanwhile benefit from having companionship and physical activity.

Having a pet could be a powerful stimulus to go for daily walks and engage in other activities, helping them maintain their mental and physical health well into their golden age.

5. Keeps you active

Being surrounded by nature, getting fresh air and sunlight are extremely important in achieving a healthy lifestyle. What better way to spend that time than with your pet.

Walking, running and playing will keep you and your pet entertained, relaxed and happy. While you struggled to motivate yourself to stay active before, no doubt your dog will provide you with the push you need now.

An outdoors routine full of activities will also do wonders for your mental health and emotional stability.

Pets are often the glue that keeps a family together and help strengthen familial bonds. (Rawpixel pic)

6. Maintains emotional balance

In moments of self-doubt, depression or loneliness, pets can console and reassure you in their own way.

Sometimes, just the close, non-verbal presence of your dog, cat or any pet might be enough to improve your state of mind.

Always upgrading and working on yourself isn’t easy, but with some help, you can unlock the many benefits that come with emotional balance.

Being around your pet elevates your level of serotonin and dopamine, which will make you more equipped to deal with everyday challenges.

7. Improves heart health

Pursuing an active lifestyle and calmer mindset plays such a big role in reducing your risks of cardiovascular diseases.

It is all connected. Fresh air and walks, lower stress levels, emotional balance, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, all of it has an impact on your general health.

And, it is definitely easier keeping those things in check with a loving pet by your side. Research conducted in 2017 found a connection between reduced cardiovascular risks and dog ownership.

8. Helps relieve pain

In certain situations, pets can be the best medicine. When it comes to chronic pains like migraines and arthritis the presence of a pet helps relieve the pain.

How does that actually work? The key is by reducing anxiety. The less anxious you are, the less pain you will feel. Focusing on the soothing presence of an animal can help calm your nerves.

Conclusion

It becomes obvious just how closely interwoven all these benefits are. Also, it is a reminder of the enormous influence animals have on our health and lives in general, although it often goes unnoticed.

If you were on the fence about introducing a furry friend into your life, perhaps reading about these positive benefits will put any potential doubts to rest.

Dennis Relojo-Howell is the founder of Psychreg. He interviews people within psychology, mental health, and well-being on his YouTube channel, The DRH Show.