The benefits of having pets for your wellness

If you needed proof that having a pet is good for you, we take a look at some of the physical and mental benefits that come with owning a pet...

Owning a pet is pretty awesome. And, if you have one, you’re probably already aware of their magical ability to make your day better with just a wag of their tail or the butting of their head against your leg when you come home.

But, did you know that owning a pet actually improves your mental and physical health and that there are scientific studies that back this up? It’s true - owning any pet, whether a dog, cat, or iguana, can positively affect your well-being.

Here are some of the ways that pets help with your physical and mental well-being.

1. Stimulates exercise

Pets, and in particular pets like dogs that require frequent exercise, increases the physical activity of their owner. This means they’re much more likely to meet their daily exercise requirements.

2. Improves immunity and allergy prevention

Having a pet around the home while you’re pregnant and the child is growing up can help improve their immune system and reduce allergies. Having a pet around while young can also help boost a child’s confidence and teach them responsibility and empathy from a young age.

3. Lifts oxytocin levels

Oxytocin is a hormone that’s thought to be a driving force behind attraction and caregiving, and it even controls key aspects of our reproductive system, childbirth, and lactation. Oxytocin has earned the nickname of the ‘cuddle’ or ‘love’ hormone because it’s released when we snuggle up, have sex, or bond socially, and when we stroke or cuddle a pet. This helps reduces stress and anxiety and explains why petting a pup or kitten helps you feel so relaxed.

4. Lowers blood pressure

This effect on your oxytocin levels also helps reduce blood pressure. One study even showed that it helped those with borderline hypertension with a marked decline in their blood pressure within five months of adopting a dog.

5. Decreases depression and increases happiness

Having a pet gives us a sense of purpose that improves our mental well-being. It also fosters social and emotional connections, which help our mood and mental health. And, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a pet you can pat or stroke – even watching fish swimming languidly in their tanks can have a positive effect.

6. Improves social connections

How many times have you struck up a conversation with another dog owner while out on a walk (or had one struck up with you)? When you have something in common, it’s much easier to break the ice and foster a social connection. Connecting with other humans in this and other ways has been shown to help improve our mental health. And some tongue-in-cheek good news for the guys... apparently you will be more trustworthy if you have a cat (but remember, pets are for life, not Tinder profile boosters!)