Having Fido come bouncing to the door after work every day certainly gives us an anecdotal mood boost, but can our pets’ tail-wagging actually make us healthier? Science says yes. Here are five reasons your pet is good for your wellness (aka, five reasons to stop at the Humane Society on your way home from work today).
5 Reasons Your Pet Is Good for Your Wellness
They Keep You Active
Your pup needs a workout as much as you do, and walking is great, low-impact exercise. In fact, regular walking can actually help prevent heart disease. Researchers at the University of Sydney found coronary heart disease could have been prevented among the nine percent of dog owners who currently have the condition, if they walked their pets more. So use your pup’s desire for a stroll as an easy way to get in a little heart-saving exercise.
They Boost Your Mood
That euphoric feeling you get from a snuggle with your kitty isn’t just in your head. Having a pet can actually help improve mood and prevent depression in men or women. And you only need to spend 15 to 30 minutes a day with your furry friend to get the benefit. The act of petting your animal companion also releases oxytocin, the hormone associated with emotional bonding. So a few strokes of your pet’s fur can leave you with a sense of calm and stability.
They Help You Make Friends
Ever been stopped on a walk with your pooch because a fellow walker is interested in saying hi? Pets can help encourage socialization, and give you ways to meet new people. Whether it’s at a dog park or just strolling through the neighborhood, your pet can be a social ice breaker. A researcher from the University of Warwick found that in five days of doing her normal activities, first without a dog and then with, she increased her interactions with strangers from three to 65. That’s a lot of potential friends, all thanks to Fido.
They Help You Live Longer
Pets provide stable companionship that can even increase your lifespan. In one study, patients discharged from a coronary care unit had a better survival rate a year later if they had a pet at home. The pet provided comfort, and a reason to stay active, while also helping to lower blood pressure.
They Can Help Relieve Chronic Pain
Suffer from fibromyalgia or chronic pain? You might be the right candidate for a Xolo, a Mexican hairless dog that can provide a healing touch with just a pet, according to Paws for Comforts, an organization that trains Xolos to be service dogs for people with chronic pain. These dogs have a body temperature of 102 degrees F and have the innate ability to know where their owner’s pain is. The dog’s body is placed on the hurting limbs of the owner and can even wrap itself around the neck of a person who suffers from chronic neck pain.