Everyone knows that playing with an animal can make you feel better. Seeing your dog’s smiling face at the end of a long day can provide a very tangible mood boost to people that may be feeling down, and emotional support animals are commonplace for people with illnesses or suffer from trauma. But what some people may not realize is that the health benefits of having a pet are taken seriously in the medical community.
Studies show a positive correlation between pet ownership and improved mental and physical health. Of course, if you’re considering getting a pet for your health, it’s worth asking, “how exactly can it help?” Below are some of the ways that health and home care service providers have observed pets being good for the health and happiness of their owners.
Therapy dogs have long been an aid to people with physical disabilities, helping those with mobility issues perform tasks that may otherwise be difficult. Pets are also recognized by mental health experts for their ability to decrease stress and mitigate the effects of anxiety and depression. Petting an animal has been shown to reduce levels of cortisol and promote the release of serotonin in the brain. Higher levels of serotonin and lower levels of cortisol are associated with lower blood pressure and heart rate as well as improved mood.
These little pick-me-ups from petting your dog when you get home can seem small, but the effects of these chemical reactions in the brain can add up over time. Studies have shown that lower serotonin levels are linked to memory decline in patients with dementia and Alzheimers. Keeping serotonin high can help fight memory disorders, and pets are a great way to manage your levels of this crucial chemical.
In addition to the brain-boosting benefits, having a pet is also associated with better physical health, such as lower blood pressure and reduced levels of cholesterol and triglycerides. One study done in Australia found that pet owners had lower systolic blood pressure than non-pet owners with similar body masses. By lowering your blood pressure, pets promote good health in many other ways. Lower blood pressure is associated with a healthier body mass index and a reduced chance of heart attacks and strokes.
One reason for this could be that pet owners, in general, tend to exercise more than non-owners. When you have a pet like a dog, you have to get them out and running every day for the good of their health, as they often get anxious or restless if they don’t exert enough energy. This, in turn, is good for your health as the owner, as regular cardio is associated with lowered blood pressure and decreased risk of heart disease.
In addition to providing a calming, mood-boosting presence, pets can act as an alarm that reminds their owners when it’s time to exercise and motivate them to get out. They can also reduce feelings of loneliness and depression that stem from a lack of companionship. For more information on health and home care services in Philadelphia and Bucks County, visit the experts at Caring Family Home Health today!