According to the American Pet Products Association, 2/3rds of American households own a pet and in 2020, we spent over 100 billion dollars on pet expenditures. That’s a lot of money per household, all things considered. But I’m sure that almost all pet owners will agree that having our furry friends beside us makes up for any kind of cost. But there’s another factor to this equation—the health benefits that our pets provide.
How do they help? One theory is that pets boost our oxytocin levels. Also known as the “bonding hormone” or “cuddle chemical,” oxytocin enhances social skills, decreases blood pressure and heart rate, boosts immune function and raises tolerance for pain. It also lowers stress, anger, and depression. It’s then no surprise that keeping regular company with a dog or cat (or another beloved animal) appears to offer all these same benefits and more.
Owning a pet means you get more exercise
Taking your pet for a walk, hike, or run are fun and rewarding ways to fit healthy daily exercise into your schedule. Studies have shown that pet owners are far more likely to meet their daily exercise requirements—and exercising every day is great for the animal as well. It will deepen your connection, eradicate most behavior problems in pets, and keep them fit and healthy. Certain types of pets simply can’t have a fulfilling life without some form of regular exercise, so you might as well come along for the ride.
Pet owners meet more people and socialize more
Social isolation and loneliness can have massive health consequences—from sleeplessness and lowered immune function, to depression and suicidal ideation. Pets can be a great social lubricant for their owners, helping them start and maintain new friendships. Dog owners frequently stop and talk to each other on walks, hikes, or in a dog park. Pet owners also meet new people in pet stores, clubs, and training classes.
Pets can provide sensory stress relief
Touch and movement are two healthy ways to quickly manage stress. Stroking a dog, cat, or other animal can lower blood pressure and help you quickly feel calmer and less stressed.
Pet owners have healthier hearts
Time spent with a furry friend is linked to better cardiovascular health, possibly due to the stress-reducing effect mentioned above. Studies show that dog owners have a lower risk of heart disease, including lower blood pressure and cholesterol. There’s also evidence that suggests dog owners have a lowered risk of death after being hospitalized due to a major cardiovascular event. Similar statistics can be found for cat owners as wel
Pets help you live longer, healthier lives
In a Swedish study, researchers studied men and women between the ages of 40 and 80 and followed their health records (and whether they owned a dog) for about a dozen years. The study found that for people who lived alone, owning a dog can provide a form of social support and increase physical activity, which can decrease their risk of death by 33% and their risk of cardiovascular-related death by 36%, compared to single people without a pet. Chances of having a heart attack were also 11% lower. A 2019 review of nearly 70 years of research found that dog ownership lowers your risk of dying from any cause by 24%.
For most of us, we love our pets because they’re fun, sweet, silly, loyal, or just plain cute. We take care of them because they deserve to have the best lives possible, and they take care of us in return. But sometimes we can’t be around to take care of our pets—which is where our Pet Nannies come in. Our Pet Nannies are all experts in making sure your pets and are healthy and happy. If you have a busy schedule, give us a call and we will make sure your pets get all the attention they need. Contact us at 734-981-6108 or use our on-line contact form and we will be in touch with you shortly.