8 scientifically proven reasons why having a pet is good for your health

Our furry, scaly, or feathery friends can do more than just provide us with companionship — they can also have a positive impact on our physical and mental health. Here are eight scientifically proven benefits to having a pet.

1. They can help to reduce stress and improve heart health

Pets can provide us with much-needed companionship and unconditional love, both of which can help to reduce stress levels. For example, research has shown that petting a dog can help to lower your blood pressure and heart rate.

Studies have shown that owning a pet can help to reduce our risk of developing cardiovascular disease. For example, one study found that dog owners had a significantly lower risk of dying from a heart attack than those without a pet.

As this study from the early 90’s notes: “There is increasing evidence suggesting that pet ownership causes measurable short term psychological and physiological effects in people, including reduction of blood pressure and mitigation of psychological indicators of anxiety. There is also evidence that pet ownership is associated with clinically significant health effects in people, including improved survival after a coronary event.”


2. They can help to boost our immunity

Believe it or not, pets can also help to boost our immunity. It’s unknown what the exact mechanism of action is, but it’s believed that exposure to their bacteria can help to build up our own resistance to infection. For example, one study found that children who were exposed to dogs early in life were less likely to develop allergies later on.

“In our pilot study of 136 responses, we found that pet ownership decreased the frequency of illness… Children ages 3 to 6 had the lowest rates of sickness, sickness length and allergies and may have developed a stronger immune system as a result of pet exposure at an early age.”

3. They can help to improve our mental health

Pets can provide us with companionship, love, and a sense of security, which can help to relieve feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and depression. In fact, research has shown that interacting with a pet can increase levels of the “feel-good” hormone oxytocin and decrease levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

A study conducted in 2019 to measure pet ownership and its influence on mental health in older adults found that ‘the role of pet ownership may benefit community-dwelling older adults by providing companionship, giving a sense of purpose and meaning, reducing loneliness and increasing socialisation. These benefits may also increase resilience in older adults against mental health disorders, which may positively influence their mental health outcomes.’

shutterstock_654915814.jpg
A man's best friend. Image Credit: Shuttershock

4. They can help to improve our physical health

It’s fairly common sense, but regular walking or playing with a pet can help to increase our levels of physical activity, which can in turn lead to a host of health benefits, including improved cardiovascular health, increased muscle strength, and improved joint mobility.

The scientific evidence is strongest for dog owners, with one publication stating that a “large Californian study found that people who owned a dog walked more as a leisure-time activity and walked almost 20 minutes more each week than people who did not own a pet.”


5. They can help us to live longer

Research has shown that people who own pets tend to live longer than those who do not own pets. Several studies found that dog owners had a lower risk of dying (particularly from cardiovascular disease) than those who did not own a dog.

The report from the American Heart Association found that dog ownership ‘was associated with a 24% risk reduction for all-cause mortality as compared to nonownership with 6 studies demonstrating significant reduction in the risk of death. Notably, in individuals with prior coronary events, living in a home with a dog was associated with an even more pronounced risk reduction for all-cause mortality

In a retrospective investigation involving more than 400 participants, dog owners had greater survival after 12 months than people who did not live with dogs, but cat owners did not live longer than participants who did not have a cat.’

So the science is in: pets are good for your health. If you want to walk more and live longer in particular, get a dog! (we can already hear cats protesting at what must be ‘flawed’ research).


Want to learn more about the health benefits of pet ownership? Watch the video below!



What do you think? Do you think your pets enrich, and possibly extend your life? Let us know in the comments below.
 
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Ricci

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After 15 years my dog died some three months ago. I decided that was it. I'd had dogs all my life and now I was going to do without. Well, that lasted all of six weeks before I felt so lonely the only cure was another dog! I now have two little rescue Pomeranians and my home is once again filled. They help with all decision making, never complain about what I want to watch on tv, are a bit vocal at meal times but eat everything I put in front of them. They raise a smile at their antics and funny little ways. They are another living breathing entity in the house and the very air in the place is back to where it always should have been. I am content.:)
 
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Pommyoz

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After 15 years my dog died some three months ago. I decided that was it. I'd had dogs all my life and now I was going to do without. Well, that lasted all of six weeks before I felt so lonely the only cure was another dog! I now have two little rescue Pomeranians and my home is once again filled. They help with all decision making, never complain about what I want to watch on tv, are a bit vocal at meal times but eat everything I put in front of them. They raise a smile at their antics and funny little ways. They are another living breathing entity in the house and the very air in the place is back to where it always should have been. I am content.:)
When our matriarch was deteriorating, we bought another puppy, gradually another puppy was added. On Monday last, our doggy was gone, sleeping eternally now. BUT the other dogs have certainly made us cope with the loss. High stress when toilet training, oh boy, never to repeat that!!
 

RTS

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Our fiamily became much happier when we got our first Staffie and experienced his unconditional love. We adopted a second dog as company for him when we weren't at home, snd I still have two Staffies after 30 years. I fondly remember my darling doggos.
 

Ezzy

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Our furry, scaly, or feathery friends can do more than just provide us with companionship — they can also have a positive impact on our physical and mental health. Here are eight scientifically proven benefits to having a pet.

1. They can help to reduce stress and improve heart health

Pets can provide us with much-needed companionship and unconditional love, both of which can help to reduce stress levels. For example, research has shown that petting a dog can help to lower your blood pressure and heart rate.

Studies have shown that owning a pet can help to reduce our risk of developing cardiovascular disease. For example, one study found that dog owners had a significantly lower risk of dying from a heart attack than those without a pet.

As this study from the early 90’s notes: “There is increasing evidence suggesting that pet ownership causes measurable short term psychological and physiological effects in people, including reduction of blood pressure and mitigation of psychological indicators of anxiety. There is also evidence that pet ownership is associated with clinically significant health effects in people, including improved survival after a coronary event.”

[firstad][/firstad]​

2. They can help to boost our immunity

Believe it or not, pets can also help to boost our immunity. It’s unknown what the exact mechanism of action is, but it’s believed that exposure to their bacteria can help to build up our own resistance to infection. For example, one study found that children who were exposed to dogs early in life were less likely to develop allergies later on.

“In our pilot study of 136 responses, we found that pet ownership decreased the frequency of illness… Children ages 3 to 6 had the lowest rates of sickness, sickness length and allergies and may have developed a stronger immune system as a result of pet exposure at an early age.”

3. They can help to improve our mental health

Pets can provide us with companionship, love, and a sense of security, which can help to relieve feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and depression. In fact, research has shown that interacting with a pet can increase levels of the “feel-good” hormone oxytocin and decrease levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

A study conducted in 2019 to measure pet ownership and its influence on mental health in older adults found that ‘the role of pet ownership may benefit community-dwelling older adults by providing companionship, giving a sense of purpose and meaning, reducing loneliness and increasing socialisation. These benefits may also increase resilience in older adults against mental health disorders, which may positively influence their mental health outcomes.’

View attachment 4117
A man's best friend. Image Credit: Shuttershock

4. They can help to improve our physical health

It’s fairly common sense, but regular walking or playing with a pet can help to increase our levels of physical activity, which can in turn lead to a host of health benefits, including improved cardiovascular health, increased muscle strength, and improved joint mobility.

The scientific evidence is strongest for dog owners, with one publication stating that a “large Californian study found that people who owned a dog walked more as a leisure-time activity and walked almost 20 minutes more each week than people who did not own a pet.”

[nextads][/nextads]​

5. They can help us to live longer

Research has shown that people who own pets tend to live longer than those who do not own pets. Several studies found that dog owners had a lower risk of dying (particularly from cardiovascular disease) than those who did not own a dog.

The report from the American Heart Association found that dog ownership ‘was associated with a 24% risk reduction for all-cause mortality as compared to nonownership with 6 studies demonstrating significant reduction in the risk of death. Notably, in individuals with prior coronary events, living in a home with a dog was associated with an even more pronounced risk reduction for all-cause mortality

In a retrospective investigation involving more than 400 participants, dog owners had greater survival after 12 months than people who did not live with dogs, but cat owners did not live longer than participants who did not have a cat.’

So the science is in: pets are good for your health. If you want to walk more and live longer in particular, get a dog! (we can already hear cats protesting at what must be ‘flawed’ research).

[nextads][/nextads]​

Want to learn more about the health benefits of pet ownership? Watch the video below!



What do you think? Do you think your pets enrich, and possibly extend your life? Let us know in the comments below.

I definitely agree with everything stated here about the benefits of having a pet. Their love to us is unconditionable. In 1995 after a particularly nasty Real Estate Agent ripped me off by not paying wages due to me for work done & failing to recover this money, l withdrew with depression, sleeping all day, only rising for meals & then returning to bed. Unknown to me at the time, the pet dog we had slept on the bottom of the bed with me. I believe she helped me in her own way to emerge from the state l was in. Pets have been shone on numerous occasions to be beneficial in Nursing Homes & Hospitals too as we know.

When we lost a pet dog approx 14 years ago it took me 12 months to replace him & then we took 2 from the Refuge, losing the 2nd late last year. These were only replaced earlier this year, initially against my better judgement (l was still mourning the loss of the 2nd pet), when a 4y.o. female needed a new home & my daughter was given first refusal. She has fitted in well though & is adorable, but l still get joy from memories of our other furbabies too. For me they will be gone but not forgotten for the endless joy they gave by their prescence.
 
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Thecla

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Sep 8, 2021
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We never forget the pts we had. All leave a special mark on us. We have in the last few years adopted my sons toy poodle and she is a dream...likes everyone but loves me. We recently sold our house and downsized to a new over 55;s apartment...pets ok but at the moment the new build isn't ready to live in and wow have we had issues finding somewhere that will allow us to take our beautiful toy poodle. A friend finally came to the rescue and gave us a roof over our heads...toy included.. Really not sure what we would have done had we not found this accommodation...not even the local caravan park would take us on.
 
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Ezzy

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May 13, 2022
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We never forget the pts we had. All leave a special mark on us. We have in the last few years adopted my sons toy poodle and she is a dream...likes everyone but loves me. We recently sold our house and downsized to a new over 55;s apartment...pets ok but at the moment the new build isn't ready to live in and wow have we had issues finding somewhere that will allow us to take our beautiful toy poodle. A friend finally came to the rescue and gave us a roof over our heads...toy included.. Really not sure what we would have done had we not found this accommodation...not even the local caravan park would take us on.
A sad state of affairs when you can't even find accommodation where you can take a small dog. Considerate owners will always pick up the 'baby's droppings'. Such good friends to allow you all to stay there. Happy outcome for all.
 
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