Unconditional Love: The Benefits of Owning a Pet

dog at bellevue animal hospital tenesseeIf you have pets, you know what a mood boost it is to see your dog greet you at the door after a long day at work. Or how good it feels to have your cat jump up on your lap for some snuggle time. This human-animal bond is something we can all feel, and perhaps even explain. But did you know that pet ownership is also good for your health? Aside from the feel-good aspect of pet ownership, there are mental, emotional, and physical benefits, too. What’s not to love?

Harpeth Hills Animal Hospital sees the bond between pets and their people every day, and it’s one of the very best parts of our job. So, we were excited to dig deeper into the health benefits of owning a pet.

The Health/ Stress Connection

Most of us now know that stress is a major factor in both our emotional and physical health. And, stress can build up over time and become truly debilitating. Animals and pet ownership in particular have been shown to be a major buffer against stress.

Studies consistently show that petting or playing with a pet can increase the “happy hormone” oxytocin, and decrease the stress hormone cortisol for up to 1- 3 hours after the interaction. That’s some powerful stuff!  

Health Benefits of Owning a Pet

Aside from helping you manage your stress levels, there are many other health benefits of owning a pet. Among these are:

Owning a pet makes you less lonely – according to research, pet owners were 36% less likely to report feelings of loneliness than non pet owners. Be we pet owners already knew that!

Pets protect your heart in a National Institute of Health study, dog owners were more likely to have better recovery rates from heart attack than non dog owners.

Pets can help you be more physically fit – dog owners in particular tend to get more exercise than non-dog owners. After all, it’s tougher to skip our daily walk when our loving pooch is at the door, looking at us expectantly. Of course, exercise also lowers our risk factors for many diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

If you need another reason to get outside walking with your dog, here’s a great way to get moving in Nashville!

The most obvious benefits to pet ownership are love and companionship. We feel best when we feel connected to another, because that’s how we’ve evolved. And with pets, that connection is especially strong because of the unconditional love we receive from them. All in all, we think pet ownership is a win-win! Call us and let us know if you agree. How are you healthier because of your pet?