Pets are good for your health
You can get a social, physical, emotional, and mental boost!
People get pets for many reasons, not just because they are cute.
Molly Gross, CCLS, a certified childlife specialist and facility dog handler, says that animals are “many more than pets”.
They become a part of your family. The term “pet” doesn’t capture the true meaning of their impact.
Pets can provide you with significant and often surprising health benefits.
Top health benefits from owning a dog
You probably experienced a surge of happiness when you scrolled through social media to see cute photos of pets from your friends. It’s equally beneficial to be in physical contact with an animal.
Gross: “Research shows that petting your dog reduces the stress hormone, cortisol.” This helps lower your blood pressure, and makes you feel less stress.
Keep a routine
Anyone who has a cat or dog knows is responsible for mealtimes. Gross says you must wake up early every morning to feed your dog.
She adds that humans can benefit from a gentle nudge in the right direction to get up. It keeps you in routine and having this routine — and putting someone or something else before yourself — provides both a mental and physical boost.
Pets can lead to greater human connection. How often have you walked your dog or cat? How often have you encountered strangers while walking your dog (or cat!)
Gross says that animals become a part of your family and become a companion. But animals can make you feel more social and less isolated at home.
Even if you are just at home, a furry friend can be a great companion. A study conducted by the journal Ageing & Mental Health on 14 community-dwelling seniors aged 65 and older who have pets revealed that pets can benefit people by providing companionship, reducing loneliness, and increasing socialization.
Exercise is essential to maintaining a healthy brain. Most experts agree that adults should be doing moderate-intensity physical activity at least 150 minutes per week.
It is about improved brain health, weight control, increased cardiorespiratory and muscular fitness, and reduced risk of chronic illnesses and killers like heart disease, strokes, cancer, and diabetes.
Even though cats can be active, they are not the most active. However, if your dog is active and loves to walk, you can get a lot of exercise. Brisk walking is also considered moderate intensity activity by the government.
Gross states that dogs go outside to relieve themselves. If you go on walks, hikes, or do something active with your dog that you like to do, you are getting up and moving. It’s even more fun when you bring your dog along.
Any pet can improve your health
You don’t need to own a cat or dog to reap the benefits.
She says, “I was raised with dogs and they are always eager to welcome you, to show you affection and to love you without condition.” “But I’m sure that this is true for other animals.” “I’m sure cat and reptile lovers will agree on some benefits.”
While service animals can provide similar health benefits to pets, such as companionship and making you feel less lonely, they are not the same.
The service animals trained for the disabled people in our society are specially trained.
Gross says service animals can save lives when placed with people. They provide services that are tailored to the individual’s needs. This could be helping someone cross the street, warning them of low blood sugar, or providing deep pressure therapy. It is a great honor for a dog to be designated as a service animal.
Facility dogs are different from pets and service animals. They are service dogs that go to hospitals, and provide all sorts of support.
Gross, for example, looks after Kid, an facility dog at Cleveland Clinic. She explains that “he received training similar to a service dog.” These dogs are not trained to serve one person, but to provide animal-assisted therapies with their handlers.
Gross says Kid is a great way to help kids with their therapies and treatments. She continues: “That could mean helping them get out of bed and back to their normal routine after surgery, calming down their nerves during or after the procedure, or building a therapeutic relationship with them if they suffer from a chronic illness.”
Kid, in other words makes the hospital experience better. Gross says that as a facility-dog handler and child life specialist, Gross’ dog is an additional tool to motivate and support his patients. Dogs can make people feel safer and build relationships quicker than humans.