The benefits of owning a pet cannot be overstated. The relationships with our animals goes well beyond companionship. Research shows pets can actually provide health benefits and may even help us live longer, happier lives. Monday, February 20, is National Love Your Pet Day. On a day where pet owners will flood their social pages with pictures and videos of their furry friends and animals, Sheryl Kingsberg, PhD, Behavioral Medicine Specialist at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center provides five health benefits to having a pet at home:
1. Healthy heart
– There’s more than one way your heart loves your pet. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have both conducted heart-related studies on people who have pets. The findings showed pet owners tend to have decreased blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels --all of which can ultimately minimize the risk for having a heart attack.
2. Getting more steps in
– Dogs can act as the perfect automatic motivator to get up and get out walking or running. NIH research revealed more than 2,000 adults who owned and walked their dogs regularly were in better shape and were less likely to be become obese, than those who did not walk a dog.
3. Stress management and improved moods –
Owning a pet, particularly a cat or dog, provides unconditional positive regard, bonding and a sense of family. Those benefits help improve mood, increase self-esteem and decrease the risk of depression.
4. Protection against allergies
– If you introduce a pet early on in a child’s life it may help protect them against respiratory illnesses, like asthma, because it helps strengthen their immune systems.
5. Social connections -
If you’re a dog owner, you’re automatically out in the world. Research indicates walking with a dog leads to more conversations with neighbors, other dog owners, etc. and helps you stay socially connected.