Do pet owners live longer and happier? – Duh! Here’s why
In this blog, I will prove you with the scientific evidence that shows how the pet is good for your health both mentally and physically.
In this chaotic and ever changing world, it is important to remember to take care of yourself. If you ask me, the best self-care is disconnecting with the world and connecting with your pet – or as I like to call them – fluffy stuffed animals with souls.
If you’re already an animal lover, then you know how much joy an animal can bring to you, but did you know that this love and happiness can help you live longer? Having pets could decrease stress, calm your nerves, improve heart health, and even help children with their emotional and social skills.
Have you heard about the hormone Oxytocin?
Oxytocin is our bonding hormone. Our Oxytocin levels can increase when we are having fun and truly living in the moment with our pets. When oxytocin increases in our body, it improves our mood, behavior, boosts the immune system, and decreases the perception of pain. It also reduces stress, anxiety, and depression.
Pets help you live longer, healthier lives
Living with a pet can decrease the risk of death from heart disease. According to one study conducted in Sweden, people who lived with a single pet will live longer, with a decrease in death rate to 33% and with heart disease to 36%, compared to single people without a pet (Mubanga et al., 2019). A review of nearly 70 years of research published in 2019 showed that having a pet lowers the risk of dying from diseases by 24%. Pets don’t just improve your cardiovascular health: they reduce your overall risk of dying (Kramer, C. K et al., 2019).
Animals for immunity
It is a misconception about pets that they might cause allergies by dander and fur. A study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found that living with the pets not only reduces the chance of allergy but also reduces the risk of asthma, pneumonia, and bronchiolitis (Garcia, M. C. S et al., 2020).
Having pets can actually boost up your immune system. This study found that petting a dog or cat increased immunoglobin A in your body. This immunoglobin A helps the body to fight with diseases (Smejda, K et al., 2020).
New researches are going on to show pets microbes may trigger our stomach bacteria to help in digestion and also affect mood and other mental functions.
Pets straight up decrease stress
I can attest to this one here. My two cats are my safe place 🙂
When it comes to stress, our cortisol levels increase. When our cortisol levels increase, our energy production and epinephrine causes our heart rate to increase our our heart to pump faster. If we feel a serious threat to our well-being, we then shift into fight-or-flight mode. Basically, living with stress is tough and we must find healthy ways to destress. Continuously living with stress can increase the risk of heart diseases and other issues with your body. Again, petting a pet can help in lowering stress and cortisol levels, lowering heart rate, the stress, and anxiety (endry, P et al., 2019).
Pets reduce depression and loneliness
Isolation and loneliness can trigger symptoms of depression. Pets make you smile and keep the loneliness away from you. Their friendship keeps you busy in daily activities like giving them food and attention that overcomes loneliness. Caring for an animal can help you to forget your worries and divert away from your focus from problems. Most pet owners have a habit of talking to their pets when they get into trouble to release tension. A study conducted in Australian proves that pets can reduce feelings of loneliness. It is natural because your love with a dog boosts your mood. Pets are also social beings and love hanging out on Caturday nights, *Saturday nights 🙂 Different studies show that pets reduce the feeling of loneliness and produced a sense of calmness (Wu, C. S. T et al., 2018).
People who have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may find relief with specially trained dogs and cats. Different studies show that unconditional love with pets boosts oxytocin that can help remedy the flashbacks, emotional numbness, and angry outbursts linked to PTSD.
Improve the quality of life
Research shows that loving pets can dramatically improve your quality and quantity of living, just as much as a human friend. One study published in 2019 showed that people with chronic low back pain who lived with dogs reported higher levels of human socialization and had lower rates of depression and anxiety than those who live without dogs. Pet owners over age 65 make 30 percent fewer visits to their doctors than those without pets (Carr, ECJ, et al., 2019)
In 2016 a study published in a psychiatry journal found that pets are the important support for the social life of people (Brooks et al., 2016). Another study in 2019 found that Especially old age people greatly benefit from relationships with dogs as they decreased loneliness and improves their resilience against mental health difficulties (Hui Gan GZ et al., 2019). The America Heart Association found that dog owners are 54 percent more likely to get 30 minutes of physical activity a day than the average person (Matchlock, RL et al., 2015)
Humans need social interaction to get rid of anxiety and depression. When we spend time with others, it helps to boost our endorphins, and this is what pets can encourage too. Having a dog could actually help you to make new friends because different pet owners love to discuss their pets.
You need to adopt a healthy lifestyle like walking, increase exercise, and socialize in easing symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress, bipolar disorder, and PTSD. Caring for a pet can help you to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Pets reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, ease loneliness, encourage exercise and playfulness, and even improve your cardiovascular health. Pets also provide valuable companionship for older adults.
So, in the end, pets are always with you when people are not. Pets give us unconditional love and companionship. They listen to us with comfortable silences, keep our secrets, and make us smile. They could be the best antidote to loneliness. Now it’s a time to add real joy and unconditional love to your life and keep your stress away.
- Mubanga, Mwenya, et al. “Dog ownership and cardiovascular risk factors: a nationwide prospective register-based cohort study.” BMJ Open 9.3 (2019): e023447.
- Kramer, C. K., Mehmood, S., & Suen, R. S. (2019). Dog ownership and survival: A systematic review. Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, 12(10), e005554.
- Garcia, M. C. S., Schorr, A. R., Arnold, W., Fei, N., & Gilbert, J. A. (2020). Pets as a Novel Microbiome-Based Therapy. In Pets as Sentinels, Forecasters, and Promoters of Human Health (pp. 245-267). Springer, Cham.
- Smejda, K., Polanska, K., Stelmach, W., Majak, P., & Stelmach, I. (2020). Dog keeping at home before pregnancy decreased the risk of food allergy. Advances in Dermatology and Allergology/Postȩpy Dermatologic i Alergologii, 37(2), 255.
- Pendry, P., & Vandagriff, J. L. (2019). Animal visitation program reduces cortisol levels of university students: 5(2), 2332858419852592.
- Carr, ECJ. (2019) Relationship between Well-Being and Living with a Dog for People with Chronic Low Back Pain. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31027281.
- Brooks, H. (2016) a study in the self-management of the everyday lives of people diagnosed with a long-term mental health condition. BMC Psychiatry, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27931210.
- Hui Gan GZ (2019) Pet ownership and its influence on mental health in older adults. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31242754.
- Matchock, RL. (2015) Pet ownership and physical health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26164613
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