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Dog people, cat people, fish people, ferret people - we are often identified by the animal we keep. But is it beneficial to our health to have pets? Yes! Here is what I have discovered.
1. Mental Health
Having a pet is truly amazing for mental health. People who feel lonely can become depressed and shut themselves out of life. Having a pet instills responsibility, and when we are responsible for a furry little animal we want to ensure their happiness, encouraging happiness in ourselves at the same time. Pets also encourage meeting new people with similar interests that can boost social lives.
Having a pet can be fun. My favorite pet was Rodney, my guinea pig. I used to always take him out of the cage and pet him, let him around, feed him (brush his hair!). Playing with pets actually promote levels of serotonin and dopamine, the two major players for tranquility and relaxation. I’m not suggesting to run to the pet store if you are feeling stressed to try and calm down. Even if you don’t have pets try to get close to one to stroke their fur, the sensory touch is very good for managing cortisol levels.
Having a dog is the best to get you out of the house. You have to bring the dog outside every day, otherwise, it is cruelty. Walking a minimum of 20 minutes a day is a general requirement so having a dog (or other pet who likes to be walked) will have you reaching this daily goal, even when you don’t feel like it! You can start to jog and run with larger dogs, and they will protect you too, so double bonus.
4. Blood Pressure
Playing and walking with your animals support balanced blood pressure. You will be less likely to be stressed, and being outside in the fresh air walking a bit every day will ensure that your heart will be a happy one. Pets are adorable and they love you unconditionally, others being wise as to when you start to feel tense - cats rubbing up against your leg or a usually hyper dog calming down to snuggle into you.
When you have a pet they are not there just for fun. They recognize you and want to protect you. Dogs are used to protect homes, barking at an unknown scent intruding into their space. Dogs are also trained to help blind people and autistic people, and caged animals can help people with Alzheimer’s be less stressed. Even watching fish in an aquarium can help reduce muscle tension and lower pulse rate.
You might already have 4 dogs, 6 cats, a budgie, and a colorful array of fish in a tank, so revel in how they are making you healthy every day. If you don’t have the time, or budget, for a pet then you could always ask to walk the neighbor’s dog, or volunteer at an animal shelter.
If you are interested in becoming a pet-owner I strongly encourage you to choose a rescue companion. These animals deserve a second chance to a good home, and now that you know these amazing benefits you will be the ever more grateful.
Keep Healthy and Keep Happy