Health Benefits of Pets


Millions of people own pets—and they often experience many health benefits from those relationships. Pets can increase social interaction, encourage physical activity and boost mental alertness in the elderly. They can also help keep you healthy by lowering your stress levels and helping you cope with anxiety. A pet can be your best friend, playmate, companion and even confidant.

Whether you have a dog, cat, fish or bird, it is important to provide the proper care for your pet. That means ensuring that they have fresh water and food daily, cleaning their habitats at least twice a week and brushing them regularly (if necessary). Pets are part of the family, so it is important to show them love, too.

While most people think of dogs and cats when they think of pets, there are plenty of other species that can make great companions. Rabbits can be a good choice for people allergic to other animals, and they are easy to care for. Reptiles like snakes, lizards and turtles are fun to interact with, and many people find that watching fish in an aquarium is soothing.

A pet can help people cope with the coronavirus pandemic by providing comfort and reducing feelings of anxiety. A study found that just looking at a dog causes a release of the hormone oxytocin, which promotes feelings of trust and love. Taking your dog for walks or spending time playing with your cat can also be helpful. And, if you are an animal lover, adopting or visiting shelter or rescue animals can be especially rewarding. These animals may be in the shelter because their owners died or moved away, were unable to take them or abandoned them when they became aggressive.

Pets can also give a sense of purpose to those who need one, such as disabled people. For instance, learning to ride a horse at a local riding stable can elevate self-esteem and put those with disabilities on a more equal footing with people without disabilities. Likewise, dogs that learn to perform tricks and participate in competitions can become therapy animals for those with mental illnesses.

Many studies have shown that people who own pets have lower blood pressure and cholesterol than those who do not own pets. Additionally, people who have pets are less likely to suffer from depression and have more social support in their lives.

A pet can be a good social icebreaker and can help you meet potential friends or partners. For example, a recent Purina survey found that more than half of respondents said their pet helped them start a conversation with someone they were interested in. And, if you’re looking for love, having pictures of your pet on your online dating profile can help you stand out from the crowd.