5 Awesome Health Benefits of Being a Pet Parent
We think it goes without saying that pets are the absolute best. They make us smile, get us moving, and enhance our snuggle sessions ten-fold. They can also double as excellent heat blankets, vacuum cleaners, and mind readers.
As if you needed any more convincing that pets are awesome, pets also bring boatloads of health benefits. From making us happier to pushing us to get outside more often, becoming a pet parent is a great investment in our mental and physical health.
Need proof? We’ve outlined five real ways that pets can improve your health.
They get you outside and get your heart pumping
Pets are full of energy and, for the most part, are creatures of the outdoors. They need their walks, their grass patch sniffs, their sidewalk squats, and their fire hydrant leg lifts. And know who’s going to take them on those adventures? That’s right, you are (;
If you’re a Colorado dog owner, then you’ve got a constant hiking companion. Hitting the trails with your mountain pup boasts a wide-range of health benefits. You can read about all of them here, but in summary: hiking burns calories, increases your cardiovascular health, prevents injuries, and can even reduce the onset, progression, and recurrence of cancer by reducing oxidative stress.
They make you and your heart happy
Pets -- furry, feathered, and otherwise -- have proven to lower stress and depression. Stroking your cat or giving your dog a well-deserved belly rub can lower your blood pressure and make you calmer. And playing with your pet can enhance the feel-good chemicals in your brain (serotonin and dopamine).
In fact, a study by the National Institutes for Health found that people with pets recover from stressful situations / experiences faster than they would with partners, friends, and family (possibly due to increased oxytocin: the social bonding hormone that spikes with pets).
They are social butterflies
Pets -- especially dogs -- are amazing conversation-starters. They can put people at ease and create an immediate bond: a shared love for animals.
In fact, asking questions about your dog can be much, much easier and socially appropriate than asking questions about you. Common responses to seeing you and your pup struttin’ around the neighborhood: Awww, can I please pet your dog?...Oh. My. God. This dog is ADORABLE!!....What kind is she?... She’s beautiful, what’s her name?
In addition to emitting good social vibes, pets also take you to social places: the park, the trails, the running path. Even many bars and restaurants -- especially in Colorado cities like Denver -- are extremely dog-friendly.
Bring your dog to brunch or the brewery and people will (whether you like it or not) gather around you.
They are therapeutic
Providers of love, affection, and comfort, pets are loyal and their love is absolutely unconditional (as long as you give them sufficient treats and ample belly scratches). For these reasons, pets have been used to treat long-term mental health challenges, including anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Studies show that pets can be a main source of support in managing long-term mental health problems.
They keep you young
Owning a pet is a big responsibility -- and it isn’t for everyone. To be a great pet owner, you need to be mentally alert and remember to feed, walk, and provide for your furry friend. For some, this might prove challenging or too much of a time and financial commitment.
But for others, owning a pet can actually improve mental alertness and boost your memory through daily cognitive activity.
Need more reasons to get a pet? Read 102 Scientific Reasons Benefits of Having a Dog, which includes a number of emotional and health benefits.
Can’t spare the funds or time to own a pet? No worries. You can still enjoy the tail-wagging rewards of pets by volunteering at the local shelter or by fostering a rescued animal. You can get involved with our friends at Lifeline Puppy Rescue.