How Pets Can Help You Live Longer
People LOVE their pets. From dogs and cats to newfound favorites like hedgehogs and even foxes, it seems to be more difficult these days to find a household without a pet— and who could blame us? Pets are great— they give us company, they show us affection, and they’re always there for us. But aside from all of this, having a pet is also incredibly beneficial to our health— and here’s a few reasons why:
- Lowers risk of heart disease: Various studies like this one suggest that having a pet can reduce your risk of heart disease— but just how is this possible? Petting a dog or cat (or any pet-able creature, really) reduces blood pressure, and the exercise that comes along with owning a pet can also lower risk of cardiovascular disease, simply because you’re exercising. Queue the “Who rescued who?” comments.
- Helps reduce and relieve stress: After a long day, there is nothing like coming home to a tail wagging or a cat weaving in between your legs. Your instinct may be to pet them immediately— and rightfully so. The presence of a pet in the home alone is enough to reduce a stress hormone called cortisol— but if you want to take your stress relief to a new level, schedule regular petting sessions with your little critter. You’ll both benefit from it!
- They make you more social (especially dogs): People with animals are magnets for A) people who HAVE animals (pets need friends too!), and B) People who LOVE animals. If you’re looking for a reason to get out and about more frequently, or for an excuse to invite people over, get a pet. They’ll keep you company when nobody else is there, and they turn any small group into a party just by being there.
- Boost your mood: As humans, it’s our job to feed and care for our pets— and they sure do a great job of thanking us. Without us even realizing, we gain so much happiness from the gratitude of our pets. Oddly enough, when we look at our pets, our brains produce a chemical called oxytocin, which is also released when we look at people we love.
- They make you more active: Pets make great exercise companions. If you’re in need of a hiking buddy, dogs are great. If you’re looking for a pal to hang out while you do a few crunches on the floor and maybe step in as a weight every so often, cats are wonderful. If you feel like chasing something around, get a chinchilla or a rabbit. In any case, having a pet is a great way to step up your physical activity levels.
- Wake-up alarms: Anyone who already owns a pet is familiar with the morning “rise and shine” love session that so many pets provide. We’re not quite sure if it’s their way of saying “Feed me, human” or if they’re just excited for us to wake up and spend time with them, but it sure beats waking up to the screech of an alarm clock every morning— and the best part is that you can’t hit snooze, so instead of getting a crappy half-hour of sleep after your alarm has already gone off (which inherently makes you MORE tired), you’re more enticed to get up and get your day started.
Don’t be fooled— having a pet is a great responsibility, and it requires time and patience. If you’re willing to put in the work, you’ll definitely be pleased with the rewards. If we’ve convinced you that getting a pet is right for you, consider rescuing from a local shelter— and by the way, October is “Adopt a Shelter Dog Month”!