7 Health Benefits of Owning a Pet

Did you know that pet ownership has nearly tripled in the United States since the 1970s? In fact, as of 2012 over 60% of households had at least one pet. The American Pet Products Association (APPA) also found that we Americans spend $50 billion on our dogs, cats and other animals annually. So, what are some health benefits to owning a pet?

Lowers Blood Pressure and Stress

With approximately half of American households being the home of one or more dogs, what’s the real reason behind man’s best friend’s appeal? Well, according to WebMD, owning a pet can actually lower blood pressure and help to lessen anxiety.

Boost Your Immunity

Owning a cat or dog has also been shown to boost your immune system. Dr. James Gern from the University of Wisconsin-Madison also found that having a pet in the household reduced the incidence of childhood allergies by more than 30% in some kids. The same research showed that kids exposed to common household pets had more robust immune systems later in life.

Increase Sociability and Lifespan

It’s already been shown that people who become very isolated and depressed live on average eight years less than their more emotionally-stable peers. Owning a dog is actually a great way to interact with people in your community. Whether in a dog park or on your dog’s afternoon walk, striking up conversation becomes that much easier with a pet in tow.

Stronger Heart

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently showed that owning one or more pets significantly reduces the risk of heart disease. This is done indirectly, however. You see, owning a pet has been correlated with lower blood pressure and better cholesterol scores. Owning a pet has also been correlated with more favorable triglyceride levels. These things together indirectly help lower heart disease.

Just owning a pet has been associated with a three percent reduction in the chances of dying from a heart-related condition (e.g., heart attack). Considering that heart disease and cancer each kill approximately a half-million Americans annually, maybe owning a pet is a justifiable alternative to taking out more health insurance!

Stick to Fitness Goals

Dog owners tend to be less sedentary during the day. Walking, jogging, biking or running with your dog are all options during the warmer months. The National Institute of Health polled over 2,000 people and found that dog owners who walked their dogs themselves, instead of having a family member or someone else do so, were far less likely to be obese.

Keep Your Head Up

Dog ownership has been correlated with having more of a sense of purpose, especially in elderly people who have retired or are unable to work consistently. The companionship that owning a dog or a cat can foster can help to lower feelings of loneliness or detachment.

Go Figure: Surprising Findings

Research into the area of pet ownership and health sometimes uncovers odd correlations. For instance, the Delta Society found that having garishly-colored fish improved the appetites and reduced the disruptive outbursts of Alzheimer’s patients.

It has also been found that people who own pets have better psychological profiles overall and are less likely to sweat the small stuff. Interestingly, pet ownership has been correlated with worrying less about a home invasion.

Great for Kids

Aside from improving the immune systems of kids, having a pet in the household can enhance the intellectual development of children as well as improve their self-worth and nurturing behaviors. Owning a pet also makes kids more resilient to the death of a loved one, according to recent research.