They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but we’re not entirely sure that’s true. What about a dog a day? When it comes to owning a pet, it’s an experience filled with as many health benefits as it has special moments. Proven improvements to your physical, mental and emotional well-being come with owning a pet, ranging from better social skills to lower risks of heart and kidney disease. It seems your furry friend might be just what the doctor ordered.
It sounds a bit odd to suggest that you snuggle up with a fuzzy Rottweiler to improve your allergy-related immunity, but that’s the truth. Research conducted at the University of Wisconsin shows that having a pet inside the home lowers your chances of developing a related allergy by up to 33%, and while kids exposed to a variety of animals at a young age go on to have the strongest immune systems, the benefits can also extend to adults who haven’t had any health issues related to pets so far. The logic is similar to how vaccinations work, where you expose a quantity of inactive antigens to the body’s immune system so it can learn how to defeat the active variety.
Having an animal is also a sure way to improve your social life. Whether you’re looking to make friends or meet someone to take out for dinner, a walk in the park with your dog might be the ideal way to break the ice. People with pets, especially canine companions, are thought to be far more approachable than people walking alone or with other humans. Of course, we’re not suggesting you get a dog just so you can pick up women, but you can’t ignore Fido’s ability to enhance your ability and opportunities to socialise. In a day and age where getting to know a stranger is fraught with concern and difficulty, a dog might be the common denominator that sets a more comfortable atmosphere.
Ask any pet owner, and they will agree that animal companions cause the heart to swell with love and affection. So it’s no wonder that having a dog, cat, horse or even goat can improve the health of your ticker. The Centre for Disease Control published its findings from a number of heart studies focused on pet owners. The results showed that these people exhibited lower blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels than those who lived without an animal buddy. The common factor among those parameters is the lower they are, the lower your chances of suffering a heart attack or developing heart disease. The cause? Having a pet can lower or control your stress levels. It’s as simple as that!
Exercising isn’t fun or easy, but having a dog might make it a little bit more important. Even if you don’t want to go for a walk every morning, your canine comrade does. Being responsible for your dog means taking him out often, whether that’s for a bathroom break or just to take in all the sights and smells of the neighbourhood. Holding the leash for 30 to 40 minutes a day can help you maintain your weight, if not lose any. Obesity is far less common among people who walk their dogs than it is among those who pass those duties on to someone else, or people who don’t have dogs at all. Bigger breeds such as the German shepherd and Saint Bernard need more activity, so if you have an open area for them to run around in, join in and watch the pounds melt away!
But of course, the biggest health benefit of owning a pet is the drastic improvement in your mental and emotional well-being. Pets help you break out of the doldrums with unconditional love, a sense of purpose and genuine loyalty. It’s tough to stay upset when you come home to a furry face bounding towards you in unbridled joy, so very pleased that you’ve returned after what felt like an eternity away. Their companionship has been known to defeat feelings of depression and loneliness in people who lack social skills, bringing genuine joy and satisfaction to their lives. Children, the sick and the elderly stand to benefit a great deal from a canine or feline companion with the right demeanour.
Remember that if you do plan on getting a dog or cat, you must be ready to assume genuine and full responsibility. And please, adopt from your local shelter!