Humans are social beings who need companionship. This is one of the reasons why people adopt furry babies, after all. According to various studies, the benefits of having a pet directly impact your health mentally and physically. While this article is informed by research, it also sheds light on some widespread myths about the benefits of having a pet. Pets provide love, comfort, and companionship, but they are no cure for depression.
Physical Health Benefits
One of the benefits of having a pet is boosting up your physical health. A Harvard Health Publishing study found that dog parents specifically are 54% more likely to get the recommended amount of physical exercise than non-pet parents. This is a result of all the activities that come with caring for a dog and spending time with them.
On top of taking them for walks every day, dog parents might also hike or run with them, as well. In addition to this, research has shown that dog ownership reduces the mortality rate by 24%.
In fact, dog parents who have already experienced a heart-related problem in the past benefit from a higher percentage. Having a dog reduces the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by 31% in dog parents.
Mental Health Benefits
Animals are healers, and we see evidence of it from pet therapy. In pet therapy, dogs and other animals provide comfort and entertainment to patients to cope and get better.
Children with ADHD: A study found that children with ADHD are more likely to be cooperative when they read to real animals as opposed to stuffed animals.
Autistic children: A different study on social interaction showed that autistic children appeared calmer and more interactive when they were around guinea pigs instead of toys.
Older adults: Having a pet helps you take care of yourself better and thus, fight against aging. One of the many benefits of having a pet as an older adult is the immune system boost you gain from them. They encourage your energy levels to rise through play, joy, laughter, and exercise — all proper ingredients for an anti-aging self-care treatment.
Benefits of Having a Pet: What Studies Don’t Show
Reading a lot of these health-related studies can easily drive people to make a lot of false assumptions. For example, pet therapy does not mean that animal companionship is the only thing that patients need to get better at. They are the means which with people cope, not a cure but comfort. They offer companionship services to lift patients’ spirits.
Pets & Depression: Surprisingly, after plenty of studies on pet ownership and depression, research concludes that pet parents are not any less depressed than non-pet parents. More specifically, 18 out of 30 studies concluded that there is no difference between the two social groups.
The health benefits of having a pet are far too great. You are giving a living animal your love in exchange for companionship, comfort, and energy boost. What studies show is what animals can do for you in the long run. They encourage you to lead a healthy lifestyle by motivating you to look after your furry pal.