It’s long been said that “dog is a man’s best friend”, but it’s also true that having a dog or other pet is one of the best ways to improve your health.
According to the American Pet Products Association, it is estimated that Americans spend more than 60 billion dollars annually on pet supplies. This number translates to about 62 percent of American households owning at least one pet, according to statistics from The Humane Society of the United States.
If so many American households own pets, there must be a reason why. The answer lies in a Gallup survey that concluded, “companionship and love” as the top reasons people choose to own pets. The relationship between humans and pets has existed for centuries, which can be linked back to the discovery of a nearly 12,000 year old human skeleton in Israel found with its hand resting on the skeleton of a six-month-old wolf pup.
This relationship between humans and animals is still in its infancy. “Researchers have only recently began to explore this wonderful relationship and what its health benefits might be,” says Dr. Sandra Barker, Professor of Psychiatry and Bill Balaban Chair in Human-Animal Interaction on the Medical Campus of Virginia Commonwealth University.
Even with such little information known, studies have concluded that pets provide health benefits in a number of ways; ranging from reduced blood pressure to a reduction in depression. If you’re looking to improve your overall health, the best formula could be at your local pet rescue!
Pets Can Lower Your Cholesterol
Having a pet has been linked to lowering your cholesterol. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who own pets have lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Pets Can Reduce Stress
After a long day of work, there’s nothing like coming home to an excited and affectionate pet! Pets have been shown to reduce the amount of cortisol, the infamous stress hormone, in owners.
Pets Can Reduce Your Blood Pressure
Curling up with your kitty or pooch not only reduces your blood pressure, but also is pleasing for your pet. In a University of New York at Buffalo study, “48 stockbrokers already taking lisinopril for hypertension found that those who obtained a pet reduced by half the increase in blood pressure that came with stress.”
Pets Keep You Moving
Being a pet owner not only makes you accountable for the health of your pet, but also your own health in the form of fitness. In order to ensure that Bailey or Spot gets their daily walk or play time, it requires that you do the same.
Pets Can Reduce Your Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
When combined with all the health-improving reasons above, owning a pet can significantly reduce your overall risk to cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in the United States.
Pets Love You Unconditionally
No matter what happens in life, you always know that your friendly pet will be by your side to love you unconditionally. What more could you ask for? This love can contribute to improved self-esteem, ward off depression, and lead to an overall improved quality of life.
It’s clear that pets offer a number of benefits to us. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to take on responsible pet ownership and adopt a new member of the family.