Ways Our Pets Make Us Healthier

Adopt a Pet, Save a Life

There is truth to the slogan “Adopt a pet, save a life”. Whenever you adopt a pet from a shelter or rescue a pet, you save a life. 16,000 unwanted pets are killed every day in U.S. shelters. Providing a forever home for a dog or cat is a worthwhile act and prevents euthanizing healthy pets that need a good home. It is a humanitarian act to save a pet. The pet’s lives aren’t the only lives saved by pet adoption. Pets benefit and offer their owners health benefits including protection against the number one killer of Americans, which is heart disease, and pet ownership helps manage stress as well.


Stress Management

If you are working like a dog and you’re frazzled and stressed out, having a dog or cat can provide stress relief. A pets playful antics can be a mental distraction from stressors, can entertain us and give us affection that lowers stress hormone levels, and can give us time to laugh and relax with our cuddly companion.

In a study from the State University of New York at Buffalo, researchers found that when conducting a stressful task, people experienced less stress when their pets were with them than when accompanied by a spouse, family member or close friend. Our four-legged friends can help us experience even less stress than our human companions.

The stress management benefits of pets aren’t only for acute stress. Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) is a disabling condition in which a terrifying ordeal trauma such as war or abuse retrains the human “fight-or-flight” response to be triggered by familiar stimuli reports improvement for PTSD, and there are trained service dogs provided by groups such as K9s for Warriors to help people who served in war deal with PTSD. A pet can calm and keep a person with PSTD from having an episode and can help bring their owner out of an episode safely and faster.


Pets as Furry Assistants to Therapy and Antidepressants

Along with medication, therapy, and other treatments, people who have mild to moderate depression have less depression than those without a cat or dog. Pets provide seemingly uncomplicated unconditional love and support that provides a source of positive self-esteem. A pet requires attention, and the responsibility of caring for a pet adds positive focus, value, and importance to the lives of the depressed.  Pets also encourage us to have a routine, and a daily schedule is another benefit to those with depression. 

It can be a little easier get out of bed when you have a pet, and that pet rewards you with love and is someone happy to see you and will love you on those days when it is tough to enjoy yourself. As companions, pets also provide companionship that eases the isolation that compounds depression and can be caused by it. Social withdrawal is harder when there’s a dog to walk, and it’s impossible to feel alone when a cat is purring on your lap and head-butting you.

Pets can promote the release of the neurotransmitters that can ease depression and are affected by many types of antidepressants. Studies show that just petting a dog or cat increases levels serotonin and dopamine, two brain chemicals that some research suggests can cause or worsen depression when in short supply. If you don’t have depression or have it and it has gotten more comfortable to live with or lifted some since you adopted your pet, thank your pet for their mental health care and give them the best care ever by being the best healthiest you that you can be.


Lowering Blood Pressure

Studies vary on the actual impact, but the evidence indicates that having a pet seems to have the potential to keep blood pressure in check – especially in those at-risk or already diagnosed with high blood pressure according to the CDC. Exercise, in particular, helps a person control blood pressure and walking a dog provides daily activity. Cat owners have even more benefits according to a University of Minnesota study looked at 4,435 Americans between ages 30 and 75, and found that those without a cat had a 40 percent higher risk of heart attack and a 30 percent great risk of dying from heart disease than did cat owners. Cat ownership prevents heart attack and reduces the risk of dying from heart disease. That is a fantastic benefit of pet ownership!


Lowering Cholesterol and Triglycerides

Pets not only warm our hearts but they protect the health of them in several ways. Pet owners of both genders, but men, in particular, have lower levels of artery-clogging cholesterol and triglycerides than those without four-legged friends. Some speculate that healthier people are just more likely to have pets, the American Heart Association notes that dogs, in particular, require an owner have a more active lifestyle. One study of more than 5,200 adults indicated that dog owner’s not more physical activity and walked more than non-dog owners, but was also 54 percent more likely to get the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity every week.


Pain Reduction

Those who suffer from chronic pain caused by arthritis, migraines or other conditions, pets are effective medicine. Loyola University did a study that concluded that when patients recovering from total joint replacement surgery received hospitals visits from therapy dogs, they required 50 percent less post-operative pain medication compared to other surgical patients. Another study, at a Pittsburgh pain clinic, found that 84 patients with fibromyalgia who interacted with dogs for 15 minutes before a doctor’s appointment reported having less pain, less fatigue, and less stress compared 49 other patients who didn’t interact with the dogs.

The decrease in pain was not significant that the researchers of the study recommended expanded use of dogs in doctors’ offices as therapy animals. Curling up with your kitty or puppy when you are in pain provides comfort. Plus the frequency a cat purrs at has been proven scientifically to improve healing of muscle injuries and bone mending in the event of breaks. Animals can help us mend after injury, ease pain and be a great friend to people in chronic pain.


Reduced Allergies

In recent years, multiple studies have found that infants’ later risk of developing allergies and asthma can be reduced by as much as 50 percent when they are exposed to dogs.  Babies who live in a pet-filled household also tend to develop stronger immune systems compared to infants in canine-free homes. Scientific studies indicate that agents in the dust of dog-filled homes promote a protective response against microbes that have been linked to allergies and asthma. Pets being around can make your newborn baby healthier and hearty and having a pet can offer lifelong health protective benefits so consider always having a pet in residence.

We have had many opportunities to help those recovering from surgeries and illness by taking care of the pets during and after. Give 2 Paws Up Inc Pet Sitting and Dog Walking a call 770-695-3096 for a free telephone consultation on how we can help you and your pet(s).



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