7 Ways Having A Pet Is Amazing For Your Health

by Dasha Fayvinova

Every time I see a dog on the street my instinct is to squat down on my knees and pet that animal for a prolonged amount of time. Does that often seem excessive? Yes. Do the dog’s owners pull the dog leash in order to move to another patch of sidewalk away from me? Again, yes. Does that deter me from trying to get more one-on-one time with that majestic animal? Hell. No. Dogs will never stop being cute to me, and I will never walk away from petting one when given the chance.

After digging around the Internet I found out that my love for dogs has actual benefits. Not monetary ones, unfortunately. But the kind that will at least get your friends and family to stop making fun of you dog-lover-squat. For what it’s worth, even without scientific research, I would still reach for a poodle pup. Pets tend to bring out the best in our nurturing side.

Pets in general take a lot of hard work. You shouldn’t attempt getting a puppy or a kitten or even a fish if you don’t think you can take care of this animal wholeheartedly. I know I’ve waited a long time to get a dog, and I’m only now truly considering it. The research online points that there are both psychological and physical benefits of having a pet. I’ve always felt that emotions and health are closely tied, so the research I’ve been reading came as no surprise. When you’re happy, you’re healthy — and when you have a furry little critter in your life, you're both of those things. Here are all the ways having a pet affects your health:

1. You Have A Stronger Heart

Having a dog ads on years to your life by making your heart stronger. According to research, our "odds for survival" after a heart attack increase when you own a pet dog. I totally believe that. Even if it has more to do with exercise or liveliness than the companionship of the dog, we all need reasons to live and go on. Interpersonal connections and emotional connections in general are key to living a long life.

2. Your Pet Is Like Whole Wheat Bread

So the title of this point seems a little outlandish. But surprisingly it's true. According to a study which looked at around 5,741 people in Melbourne, the ones who had pets ended up having lower blood pressure and cholesterol as compared to the ones that didn't own pets. This was across all participants, even the ones that had bad habits like smoking or bad dietary habits in general. If having a dog means lower cholesterol, SIGN ME UP.

3. You Go To The Doctor Less

They should really say a "pet a day keeps the doctor away". In studies conducted at nursing homes, old folks with animal companions reported less medical and health issues and went to the doctor far less. When I was in Boston during the Boston Marathon Bombing, our school brought in puppies for therapy. I will say, it personally really helped me.

4. Your Pets Help You Socialize

People who have pets are often better at socializing. This must be because other people (like me) stop pet owners in order to talk about their pets. Dogs and animals in general are great conversation starter for people who are afraid of approaching strangers, but are looking to socialize and make connections.

5. Their Physical Contact Is Always A Plus

Research has shown that touch and physical contact is crucial for development. Just think how great it feels for a friend or partner to hug you. Person-to-person physical contact is not for everyone, so a pet can be a great alternative!

6. They Reduce Anxiety

You feel safer with an animal around. At night, when there are sounds next to my window, I wish I had a dog next to me to protect me. Kinda like this little dog that chased away a bunch of bears.

7. They Lift Our Mood

Pets makes us smile and laugh. They warm our consumer driven hearts and reminds us of simple joys. Basically, they make us happy. Happy people tend to live longer and more meaningful lives. If that isn't reason enough to get a pet, I don't know what is.

Images: Giphy; Pexels