People everywhere are compelled to keep four-legged sidekicks, such as dogs or cats. These practices date back ages.
Ancient Egyptians were known to keep and worship cats, while the domestication of dogs began when hungry wolves trailed ancient hunter-gatherers in hopes of a scrap of their food. Soon, these wolves became faithful companions and protectors.
It seems humans were destined to keep certain animals as pets. However, this begs the question, what positive benefits do today’s pets provide when it comes to our wellbeing?
Pets Can Improve Their Owner’s Mental Health
In 2016, HABRI conducted a study to look at the relationship between pets and owners battling a long-term mental health diagnosis. Their findings were impressive.
People with pets reported a better sense of identity and fewer negative feelings around their mental health diagnoses. They also reported having more stability and routine, which is likely a causational effect of having to care for a pet.
It was also found that pets help their owners manage mental health symptoms, such as hallucinations or suicidal thoughts, by providing a distraction from these occurrences.
Pets Can Improve Their Owner’s Physical Well-being
Did you know dog owners have lower obesity rates than the general population? That’s right, all those late-night bathroom walks are good for your health.
Dog owners are more likely to get active for their dogs’ well-being, which in turn improves their health. It’s a win-win! That’s not all, either. The stress management a pet provides can help with high blood pressure, too.
In a study comprised of people aged 50 or older with mildly elevated blood pressure, the presence of a dog or cat had a significant impact on blood pressure. Dog ownership was associated with lower diastolic and systolic blood pressure as opposed to non-pet owners.
Our pets—they’re adorable, lovable, and integral parts of our family. Most of us don’t get our pets for their amazing benefits on our mental or physical well-being. We adopt pets because we yearn to build relationships with animals, just as we do with humans.
As it turns out, owning a pet does have great mental and physical health effects. Perhaps that’s why the incidence of emotional support animals, or ESAs, has gone up in recent years. Pets prove to be extremely effective in helping those with mental health concerns.
Keeping a pet is a rewarding and healthy experience. If you think a pet might help your well-being, check out the many shelters in your area to adopt a friend who needs it most.