Have you ever noticed that you tend to feel better when you are around your pet? You are not alone.
Recent studies show that nearly 50 percent of Americans find stress relief from their pets. Whether you own a dog, a cat or a lizard, pets offer companionship that can be greatly beneficial for your physical and mental health. Here are some of the many ways pets can help improve your overall quality of life.
Pets keep you healthy. Pets, especially dogs, can help lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. This is because dog owners tend to walk much more than non-owners. Regular exercise is not only good for your animals, but also often leads to lower cholesterol, blood pressure and stress levels in humans.
Moreover, studies show that people who own pets are 54-percent more likely to meet federal exercise guidelines than those who don’t own pets. Even playing with your cat or hamster can lead to an overall increase in physical activity. However, since some pets require much more or much less exercise than others, the amount of physical activity you engage in with your pet can vary.
In addition, pets can lessen allergies and strengthen your body’s immunity. Children who grow up in homes with animals are shown to be less likely to develop some common allergies including grass, dust, ragweed and pet allergies. Some studies also suggest the people who grow up in homes with furry pets are at a lower risk for asthma than their non-pet owning counterparts.
Pets make you happier. Research shows that pet owners are typically happier than non-owners. This is because just being around your pet can increase serotonin and dopamine levels, neurotransmitters that are associated with happy feelings.
In addition, gently petting your four-legged friend can reduce stress levels in both you and your pet. This petting action tends to release oxytocin. Oxytocin is a hormone associated with emotional bonding and relaxation. In fact, the simple act of petting an animal has been found to lower blood pressure as well.
Playing and spending time with your pet also reduces your body’s levels of cortisol, also known as the stress hormone. Cortisol helps regulate what you might know as your fight-or-flight response. Chronically high levels of cortisol can cause excessive weight gain, sleep problems, blood sugar abnormalities and more. Spending regular face time with your animal can lower your cortisol levels by 10-20 points and leave you feeling much happier and healthier overall.
If you have any questions about how you can return the favor and better care for your furry friend, contact us today.