Health benefits of having a pet

We’ve long loved dogs for being man’s best friend, but not so well known is that our pets can actually make us physically and mentally healthier. Just the presence of our pets can lift our spirits and help us relax.

Research has shown that owning a pet can have a number of physical health benefits including better cardiovascular health (lower blood pressure, lower triglycerides and in men, lower cholesterol).

Dogs are especially great and get their owners out and enjoying the outdoors while getting some regular exercise. They are great motivators and personal trainers, never wanting to miss a training session no matter the weather.

Research has also shown that pet owners have fewer visits to the doctor over their lifetime, and kids that grow up with a dog (and other pets to a lesser extent) during infancy have strengthened immune systems and are less likely to develop allergies. Children who have pets are also less likely to miss days of school due to illness.

There are also a number of psychological benefits of owning a pet. A study conducted with school children showed that pet owners were more popular, but also seemed more empathetic.

Those who have pets including children or adolescents have been shown to have higher self-esteem and teenagers who own pets have a more positive outlook on life and report less loneliness, restlessness, despair or boredom.

Pet owners also report less depression and appear to cope with grief, stress and loss better than non-pet owners. In general pets also enhance social skills and are great conversation starters. Not to mention, pets are great caregivers and often make us feel better when we are sick or down, or feel safer when we are home alone.

Pets are an invaluable presence in our life. If you are considering owning a pet, be sure you contact your Gladstone’s Friends of the RSPCA.