Ok, even if you aren’t a GIANT animal lover like myself, you cannot deny that there is an indescribable bond between humans and their animals. I happen to be a “dog person,” but appreciate any and all forms of pet love! I have had several dogs over the course of my life, and although each bond has been unique, the love is always the same.
According to Karin Winegar (author of Saved: Rescued Animals and the Lives They Transform),“The human-animal bond bypasses the intellect and goes straight to the heart and emotions and nurtures us in ways that nothing else can.” Pretty powerful, huh?
Beyond bringing joy to our lives and our homes, pets can actually promote the health of their owners! There are a number of proven health benefits of pet ownership, including physical, emotional and mental improvements.
1) They force us to direct our energy towards something other than ourselves: Lets be honest, sometimes we need a friendly reminder that we aren’t the only being in this universe! Just the simple act of loving and caring for your pet allows you to redirect some of that self-centered energy towards another living creature and that makes us feel good.
2) They are good for the heart, literally: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute of Health (NIH) have both conducted heart-related studies on people who have pets. The results are pretty impressive and show that pet owners exhibit decreased blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels (all of which can ultimately minimize the risk of having a heart attack). These benefits are thought to be attributed to the animals’ ability to control and reduce the stress levels of their owners.
3) They promote an overall healthier mood: According to research, people with pets are generally happier, more trusting and less lonely than those who do not have pets. This can be attributed, in part to the sense of “belonging” that pets can provide to their owners. Additionally, pets encourage positive social interactions, which are crucial to health and happiness.
4) They encourage daily, healthy habits: Animals obviously have daily requirements (think breakfast, potty breaks, exercise, etc.) that require owner participation! Whether it be getting on a better sleep schedule, increasing daily exercise OR maintaining regular eating patters, our pets help us lead a healthier lifestyle. I know that there are days where I would MUCH rather stay in bed, but duty calls and I have to get up and get my day started with a brisk pup walk.
5) They support a healthy immune system: A growing number of studies suggest that children growing up in a home with pets, are at a decreased risk for developing allergies and asthma. It is hypothesized that early exposure to germs brought into the house from pets stimulates the maturation of the immune system. A little dirt never killed anyone, right?!?