For many of us, our pets are an integral part of our lives. From loyal companionship to unconditional love, they brighten our days and make us feel better in times of distress. But did you know that your pets can also be an important part of your overall health and well-being?
Here are five shocking facts about how your pets may be affecting your health:
Pets Can Improve Your Mental Health
Many studies have consistently demonstrated that the presence of a pet in the home can be beneficial for the mental health of you and your family. People with pets tend to have lower stress levels and are less likely to suffer from depression or anxiety.
Pet-owning families of autistic children generally report less parental stress and improved family functioning than families without pets.
One study even found that individuals who had pets in the first 12 years of life may have a lower risk of developing schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other psychiatric disorders later in life.
Pets Can Increase Your Physical Activity
Having a dog is a great opportunity to increase your physical activity. Not only will you need to take your pup for regular walks, but even just playing with them in your yard can be a great way to get your heart rate up and break a sweat.
Dogs can also help you maintain your motivation to be active and make it more enjoyable. They’ll probably be more than happy to join you for a jog or accompany you on your next weekend hike.
Pets Can Help You Be More Social
Pets are excellent conversation starters and can be a great way to meet new people. Walking your dog in the park or around the neighborhood is a great opportunity to say hello to someone new, strike up a conversation, and form deeper and more meaningful connections.
This can be especially helpful for people with an illness or condition that interferes with their ability to integrate into their community.
Trained Pets Can Identify Illnesses
Dogs and cats have an extraordinary ability to detect subtle changes in their environment and the behavior of people around them. Both dogs and cats can be trained to recognize certain changes in your body, like subtle shifts in your breath, body odor, or body temperature, which could indicate an impending health issue.
For example, dogs can detect changes in your blood sugar levels and alert you (or someone else) if they sense something wrong. Dogs may even be useful for detecting things like cancer and COVID-19.
They can also be helpful for people with PTSD or other anxiety disorders, as they can respond to an impending panic attack or even intervene to help calm their owners.
Health Risks To Be Aware Of
While owning a pet has many health benefits, there are some potential health risks that come with the territory.
Most commonly, pets can trigger allergic reactions. Even if you aren’t allergic to the pets themselves, dust and pollen can cling to their fur and provoke your allergy symptoms.
Dogs and cats can also transmit contagious infections, like parasitic, viral, or bacterial infections. Although many people believe that “a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s,” there isn’t any evidence to support this. It’s important to practice good hygiene when around your pets and make sure they are up-to-date with their vaccinations.
There is also a risk of injury from your pet, such as bites, scratches, or falls. This risk can usually be reduced through obedience training and proper supervision, but it’s an important factor to keep in mind.
Overall, the presence of a pet in your home can be incredibly beneficial for both your physical and mental health. Just remember to practice good hygiene and safety when interacting with them. With the right care, a pet can bring much joy and comfort to your life.