Owning pets brings a host of benefits, helping to influence not only the dynamic in your home, but also boosting your wellbeing and health.
After a long and difficult day, there is nothing better than returning home and being greeted by the smiling face and wagging tail of your beautiful dog or a purring cat entwining itself around your legs.
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The unconditional love, enthusiasm and joy that pets can bring to your life can turn a house into a home filled with laughter and memories.
Over 25 years’ worth of study has been conducted into pets and their supposed health benefits to humans, and there has been some surprisingly positive developments (although if you have a pet – I doubt you’ll be that surprised… we already knew they were the absolute best!)
Pets and allergies
Often people worry that children growing up with a furry household pet could risk developing allergies; however science has found that if an infant grows up with a dog, they are less likely to show evidence of a pet allergy as well as a reduced risk to develop asthma.
Dr James Gern, in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, also found that children were less likely to have eczema and had higher levels of immune chemicals indicating a stronger immune system.
So not only can your pet help you fight the common cold, they also are fantastic at reducing anxiety and blood pressure. Coming home from a long day you may be tired, a little anxious and possibly quite stressed as you let the details of the day wash over you.
When we are in stress mode, we are in a state of dis-ease whereby harmful chemicals like cortisol and norepinephrine negatively impact upon our immunity (that’s why we get a cold or feel run down when we are feeling stretched and stressed).
These chemicals can create a build-up of plaque in the arteries, which is an indicator of heart disease and higher blood pressure. There is a light at the end of the tunnel however!
Science has found that owning a pet, stroking, hugging and playing can elevate those happy hormones serotonin and dopamine – the nerve transmitters that create pleasure in the brain as well as a calming feeling.
Pets are acutely attuned to humans, our behaviour and our emotions and can relate to us and by fulfilling a human’s basic need to touch.
Stroking your pet can release feel-good endorphins for them too, relaxing them and reducing their heart rate at the same time.
Share the load
Have you ever found yourself chatting away to your pets about your day while you’re cooking or pottering around? You’re not alone, and what is better it actually is healthy.
Communicating with animals lowers your blood pressure and improves your overall health. Talking in an upbeat tone or laughing can make your animals feel more at ease, as well as allowing you to concentrate on happier thoughts and happy times.
Children growing up with a pet are more secure and active and as humans we are less likely to suffer from depression, have lower cholesterol levels and adds a great dynamic to your day – pets add structure and routine, which can be helpful for the elderly.
Alzheimer’s patients have fewer anxious outbursts when there is a dog in the home and also care givers have felt less burdened promoting exercise and companionship.
There is a reason that rabbits and dogs are used in therapy as well as within stressed students or elderly people with Alzheimer’s.
The calming nature of the animal, and the strong human-to-animal bond can relate back to fond childhood memories.
So pick up your pet prescription, walk your dog, play with your cat or stroke your rabbit and reap the humongous health rewards they have to offer, as well as enjoying their wonderful and quirky company.
Find a friend
If you would like to reap the health benefits but don’t have a pet, consider sites like Borrow My Doggy where you can sign up to walk and play with pets in your neighbourhood.
Often they are owned by people who may not have enough time, who are elderly and can’t walk them as much, or are people who would like to meet new friends.
It is a great way of getting yourself started as well as making the world a happy place.