Owning a pet is fun, and it’s also a major responsibility, but one of the most amazing facts about owning a pet may blow your mind: It can make you healthier and happier! If you’ve ever owned a pet, you probably already know about the happiness factor.
It’s true! It can lower your risk of depression, decrease your stress, strengthen your immune system, lower your blood pressure and even help you avoid illnesses like heart disease. That’s pretty amazing, right? Check out these other incredible facts about pet ownership.
Pets help people build more social support. Studies have shown that pet owners socialize more than non-pet owners. It could be because you seem more approachable when you have a pet, but it’s also because you may find yourself out and about in a neighborhood more if you have to walk your furry friend. Having an animal companion can help you avoid the risk factors that come with isolation and loneliness.
Being around a pet can have a positive impact on your mood. Researchers have found serotonin and dopamine levels increase when people smile at their pets. Serotonin and dopamine are both responsible for feeling happiness. The act of petting your fur baby can boost your oxytocin levels — the hormone that helps you stress less — too. Your improved mood could help you feel less strain, anxiety, or depression.
Having a pet doesn’t just allow you to feel happier and help you make more friends. It can also help you live a longer life. Studies have shown heart attack, and stroke patients were more likely to survive if they were dog owners. Researchers have correlated these higher survival rates with the fact that dog owners get more exercise, are less socially isolated, and have lower rates of depression. Even for other life-threatening illnesses, it seems that dog owners fare better than people who don’t own a pet.
Some furry companions can even help you detect an illness in advance. Diabetic pet owners have discovered that their pet’s behavior can change when their blood sugar drops, helping them identify the issue before it reaches a critical level. There’s even evidence that some dogs can sniff out cancerous moles! Those are some Lassie-level life-saving abilities.
We might not want to skip the wellness checks and leave all our diagnostics to our pets, but there are many other excellent reasons to keep an animal beyond companionship. If social benefits, improved mood, and a longer life aren’t reason enough, stop by your local animal shelter and take a peek at the cute faces just waiting for adoption!
You may not be able to resist taking one home. Plus, you’ll do it with the satisfaction of knowing that it’s something positive for your health and happiness, too, all while giving a needy animal a forever home.