Science Says Your Pet Is Good for Your Wellness + Health

Science Says Your Pet Is Good for Your Wellness + Health

During times of stress and uncertainty in everyday life, our furry friends offer a source of unconditional love and companionship.

Even if you've never owned a pet, everyone knows that playing with a dog or petting a cat can instantly lift your spirits.

But beyond their soft fur and endearing antics, pets can have a profound impact on our physical, emotional, and social well-being.

Let's explore 7 reasons why a pet is great for your health and wellness — all backed by science. 

Pets Are Proven to Help Reduce Stress

Pets are like our own furry therapists. Whenever we’re feeling stressed or down, they naturally help to boost our mood.

Just the simple acts of petting a cat or playing fetch with a dog can instantly make you feel much happier and more at ease.

That's because these interactions trigger the release of oxytocin, the same "feel-good" hormone responsible for creating emotional bonds (like the one between a mothers and her baby). 

At the same time, spending time with a pet also helps lower the body’s level of cortisol — the hormone linked to stress and anxiety.

All in all, this combination promotes a sense of calmness and relaxation, meaning that pets are amazing companions for your emotional well-being.

Pets Can Also Relieve Feelings of Loneliness

In moments when we feel alone, pets are always by our side as loyal companions, ready to brighten up our day.

Data from the Harvard Study of Adult Development shows that “having close relationships is one of the top predictors of maintaining good health, even in old age.” And fortunately, pets can help with that. 

According to research, pets play a huge role in combating loneliness. In one study, pet owners were shown to be 36% less likely to report loneliness compared to those without pets. 

The reason: our furry friends not only exhibit human-like behaviors, such as showing gratitude and affection, but also encourage us to partake in healthy activities that may decrease feelings of isolation, such as spending time outdoors and staying active.

In fact, pets can even bring people closer together. Taking your dog out on a walk, for instance, often leads to spontaneous conversations. After all, pets are a great icebreaker, and visiting pet-related places and events can give you the chance to connect with like-minded individuals, which can even lead to lasting friendships.

And of course, even when it feels like no one understands us, our pets are always there to listen without judgment and offer us the warmth and affection we need.

Pets Help Us Live a More Active and Healthy Lifestyle

Pets (and especially dogs) naturally encourage their owners to embrace a more active lifestyle. Of course they need their regular walks and playtime — and while they get their fun, it's just as beneficial for ourselves.

These daily activities are a great way to get some exercise in your day without having it feel like a chore or something that takes up a lot of time. 

In fact, research shows that dog owners are more likely to reach the recommended guideline of 150 minutes of exercise each week. The CDC even reports that "regular walking or playing with pets can decrease blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and triglyceride levels.

Plus, enjoying time outdoors with your pet is even better, as numerous studies have demonstrated the benefits of sunlight for your physical and mental wellness.

Moral of the story: by caring for our pets, we're also taking a step towards improving our own health.

Pets Can Benefit Those With Alzheimer’s or Dementia 

Pets are great for people of all ages, but they can be especially beneficial to older adults, including those suffering from cognitive illnesses. 

In fact, research from UC Davis found that “Alzheimer’s patients suffer less stress and have fewer anxious outbursts if there is a dog or cat in the home.” 

That’s because pets provide a form of communication that can easily soothe one’s mood, even for those facing cognitive challenges. Their playful interactions and gentle touches help to relieve agitation and brighten up anyone’s day. 

Plus, the routine of caring for a pet, which includes daily tasks such as feeing, grooming, and walking, can also offer them a sense of purpose and responsibility. 

Pets Are Good For Your Heart — Literally

It’s no secret that pets have a way of warming our hearts. But did you know that they also work wonders for our heart health in the literal sense?  

For instance, studies found that heart attack survivors who owned dogs had a 33% lower risk of death compared to those who didn’t own a dog. Meanwhile, stroke survivors with canine companions saw a 27% reduced mortality rate. 

Our furry companions not only encourage us to live a more active lifestyle, but also play a crucial role in lowering cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Along with other benefits, such as enhancing mood and providing social support, it’s no wonder why pets provide such a boost to our cardiovascular systems and overall health.

In fact, they can even help extend our lives, as an analysis of 4 million people from a number of countries around the world showed that dog ownership was associated with a 24% reduction in mortality of any cause. 

Pets Encourage Us to Stay Mindful and Present

"Perhaps one of the greatest psychological benefits of interacting with a dog is the opportunity it provides to be more mindful — to purposely focus your attention on the present moment," according to Harvard Health.

Indeed, spending time with pets is valuable for our mental well-being. Amidst everything going on in our lives, they teach us to simply appreciate the here and now.

Mindful moments with your pets can happen anytime, anywhere. Whether you're observing your dog's playful antics during a walk or feeling the warmth and comfort of a purring cat, these experiences allow you to connect more deeply with the present.

In today's fast-paced world, often filled with distractions, sharing a moment with your furry friend can be a refreshing break from everything, encouraging you to slow down and enjoy the simple things in life.

Pets Offer Us the Biggest Gift of All: Unconditional Love

Last but not least, pets offer a kind of love that's pure and unconditional, asking for nothing in return but your care and affection.

There are even special animals like therapy dogs that are trained to provide comfort to the people who need it most.

Having a pet is simply a special bond that can't be replicated. There's always comfort in knowing that no matter what kind of day you've had or what situation you're going through, you'll have a furry friend who's waiting there to greet you with love and enthusiasm.

This unwavering support can raise your spirits and boost your confidence, making you feel valued and understood at all times.