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If you have ever shared your home with a furry friend, you already know the many joys an animal companion brings to your everyday life.
Having a pet means always having a companion who’s happy to see you when you return home – regardless of whether or not you folded the laundry or emptied the dishwasher! You have a nonjudgmental, listening ear, a snuggle buddy, and a loyal companion who loves you unconditionally.
But did you know that there is compelling research to suggest that owning a pet is good for your physical and mental health?
1. Pets help alleviate stress
Having a dog or cat helps prevent loneliness and provides a calming effect.
Rebecca A. Johnson, Ph.D., director of the Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction at the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine, explains the science behind how pets calm us:
“A powerful neurochemical, oxytocin, is released when we look at our companion animal, which brings feelings of joy. It’s also accompanied by a decrease in cortisol, a stress hormone.”
This is why pets, particularly dogs, make such good therapy animals and companions for people who suffer from anxiety-related disorders such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
2. Pet owners have healthier hearts
If you own a dog, you may be less likely to develop heart disease.
This may be in part because dog owners walk more than people who do not own dogs.
This helps lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and keep weight down.
People who get an average of 30 minutes of aerobic activity each day strengthen their hearts, causing them to work more effectively.
According to Harvard Health, dog owners are 54% more likely to get the recommended physical activity than non-dog owners.
So, why not open your heart to a pet?
3. Pets help with depression
A study published in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that due to the social support pets provide, pet owners tend to have better self-esteem and overall well-being.
This may be attributed to the fact that pets give unconditional love and acceptance.
Caring for a pet offers someone something outside oneself to focus on, contributing to a positive sense of self-worth.
Spending time with a pet also causes the body to release serotonin, a chemical that contributes to well-being and happiness.
4. Pets offer positive social support for children with autism and ADHD
Some research has indicated that children with autism spectrum disorders relate better to their peers when there are pets in the classroom. It is unclear exactly why this is the case, but one theory is that animals increase feelings of social support and reduce stress.
A study mentioned in News In Health found that dogs in the classroom helped children with ADHD focus better on a given task.
In this study, children who had been diagnosed with ADHD were divided into two groups. One group read to a therapy dog once a week, while the other group read to a puppet that looked like a dog. Upon conclusion of the study, the children who read to the actual dog displayed more positive social skills and cooperation, as well as a willingness to volunteer.
5. Pets keep people connected
One key to mental health is being connected to others. Having pets creates social connections.
People with pets tend to talk to other pet-people such as other pet parents, people who like animals, people who work with animals, etc.
If you are walking a dog, people have a natural reason to talk to you. A dog is a conversation starter. People who are walking dogs are also more likely to stop and talk to others who are walking dogs.
Pets do so many amazing things for humans.
They improve our physical and mental well-being without even trying. They make our homes and hearts warmer.
We can help them, too, by adopting or fostering a pet in need of a loving home or volunteering at a local animal shelter.
You can also protect your pet’s health by making sure he is covered with a Pet Insurance Policy from PetFirst Pet Insurance.
Pet insurance provides peace of mind that if your pet gets sick or injured you don’t have to think twice about the financial aspect and you can just focus on your pet’s care.
The team at PetFirst Pet Insurance loves helping pet parents have the ability to give their pets the best care possible. As a pet parent, you can find the best coverage for your furry friend with PetFirst and our various options that fit your families needs.
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