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You live alone and you are coming home late from work on a dark, chilly, miserable night. As you walk in the door you are greeted by the gentle purr of your beloved cat as she winds her warm body around your ankles. Or you’ve suffered through a particularly long bout of the flu, and when you wake up your faithful, furry hound is at your side, smiling up at you with liquid eyes. These are the moments that remind you how worthwhile it is to own a pet. However, you should also know that there are actual health benefits involved in pet ownership as well. Here are a few of them:
Kids who grow up in homes with furry animals such as cats and dogs have boosted immune systems when it comes to allergies and asthma. Because dogs can be dirty, babies who grow up around them are exposed to a higher amount of dirt and allergens, thus increasing their immune systems. Owning a pet is also an excellent way to teach your children about empathy, respect for other living creatures, socialization, and responsibility. By including animals as family members, everyone in the family – including you! – is offered the benefit of good healthy outcomes that comes from human contact.
Pets make excellent stress reducers. Especially after a difficult or stressful day, pet owners have been found to have their moods increased or their depression lessened. Research has also found that people who own cats or dogs have lower blood pressure and heart rates than those who don’t. It has also been proven that playing with your cat or dog can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine. These are nerve transmitters that cause calm or pleasurable feelings, and playing with your pet is one of the easiest ways to feel their effects.
It also helps people to talk about their problems with a pet who is a good listener, non-judgmental, and who will love them unconditionally. This is especially relevant to people who feel lonely or isolated. Dogs and cats make excellent cuddle buddies. In fact, residents in nursing homes have reported that they feel less lonely when they are allowed to own a pet or when they have been visited by an animal. And owning a pet encourages laughter, which is also health promoting. Even the simple act of petting a dog or cat promotes relaxation.
Owning a dog especially means that you are more prone to exercise when you are required to walk her every day. You are also provided the benefit of being outdoors. And once you establish a routine, walking your dog becomes something that you can look forward to doing, which can increase social contact with other dog walkers. Owning a dog can do wonders for your love life, particularly if you run into a like-minded individual. Remember the opening scene of 101 Dalmatians?
Just make sure that, whatever pet you may acquire, you are able to responsibly care for your animal. That means making sure you know what to do if problems arise, such as being aware of good training techniques or using as dog bark collar if your pooch is a noisy one.