Pets can be very beneficial to your mental health and well-being. It’s no wonder that over 65% of homes in America own a pet with cats and dogs being the most popular pets to own. These pets provide great company, offer unconditional love, and teach us how to be compassionate. There are also a multitude of other benefits your pet can offer you as well.
About 50 million Americans suffer from allergies. Pet dander is one of the most common triggers, which is why it’s so surprising that pets can help lower your risk of developing allergies. However Medical News Today reports that a study shows people who’ve been exposed to pets early in life are less likely to develop allergies. The Microbiome journal discovered that this is because of the changes in their gut’s bacteria.
Less Stress and Anxiety
A cat’s purring or a dog snuggling you will put you at ease. This is something that’s backed by research which shows children who interact with pets have less cortisol (a stress hormone) than those who don’t. Even riding and caring for horses can help here.
Improved Heart Health
About 610,000 Americans die from a heart related issue yearly. While good lifestyle choices are important, adopting a pet can also help. In fact the American Heart Association’s research discovered that owning a dog reduces a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease. Part of this is because as a dog owner you’re 54% more likely to get the physical exercise you need. However, the study also found that your blood pressure and cholesterol will also be lower.
Better Social Skills
Pet owners form a special bond with their furry friends. In fact, 66% of dog owners and 56% of cat owners think of their pet as part of their family. Research shows that this bond is also beneficial for your other relationships and your social skills too. Some pet owners report their romantic relationships are stronger, of better quality, and are more invested in. When this relationship started in adolescence people have greater empathy and confidence once they reach adulthood. This is especially true for people who are autistic. The University of Missouri in Columbia weighed in on this saying that dog ownership helped autistic children become more assertive. Overall, children who own pets are more likely to introduce themselves, ask for information, and answer other people’s questions. These are challenging skills for autistic children.
Approximately 1 in 5 American adults is affected by mental illness. The most common illnesses being depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Although owning a pet won’t cure your mental health, it will help. MNT’s research study discovered that about 60% of pet owners who were diagnosed with a severe mental illness said their pet is the most important “tool” they have for managing their illness. Overall pet owners showed an improved sense of control, security, and routine. This is why there’s an increase in animal-assisted therapies today.
Better Quality of Sleep
Down owners often struggle with sharing their bed sheets with their furry friend. However, having them sleep with you can help you get a better night’s sleep. MNT conducted a study that was published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings journal. It says that 41% of pet owners who let their pet sleep in bed with them felt they slept better because their pet gave them the feeling of security, relaxation, and companionship.
Now that you understand how your pet can help improve your mental health and well-being you may wish to consider adopting one for your home. While you’re doing so, you should also consider availing yourself to the services at Advantage Mental Health Center. Over the years they’ve helped many people reduce their stress and anxiety. They look forward to helping you too.
Picture Credit: Wade Austin Ellis