For most pet owners, nothing beats walking through the front door only to be greeted by a lop-sided grin, a wagging tail and the unbridled excitement of a furry companion. However, the benefits of pet ownership are far-reaching, leading to strong emotional bonds as well as improvements in health. Here are five surprising benefits of pet ownership:
Mood boosters and stress relievers
Pets are a great way to beat the blues. They combat loneliness by providing companionship and unconditional love, giving their owners a sense of purpose. A survey conducted by Mindlab International found that 44 percent of people were more relaxed and less worried about their financial hardships or job security after spending quality time with their pets.
Profound healing abilities
Research shows that pet owners often exhibit lower blood pressure, cholesterol and are not as likely to develop cardiovascular problems. Having a pet to care for can stimulate individuals suffering from any medical ailment to take better care of themselves.
For those looking for some additional motivation in the exercise department, pets can act as the perfect personal trainer. They serve as excellent support systems, motivating their owners to make more health-conscious decisions. Going for walks with a pet regularly turns exercise into a routine and ultimately, improves the well-being of both the pet and the owner. In fact, a University of Missouri-Columbia study shows that people who don’t typically exercise could lose an average of 14 pounds in one year by walking a dog 20 minutes a day, 5 days a week.
Positive impacts for children
Studies show that children who grow up with a pet develop better cognitive capabilities and tend to be more compassionate. When children witness a pet’s nonjudgmental love and loyalty, as well as bear the responsibility of caring for it daily, they begin to have a greater respect for all living things around them. And contrary to popular belief, exposure to pets at an early age may help boost immune function.
Elder care support
Pet ownership is particularly beneficial to seniors, offering a renewed opportunity to nurture and to love. Although pets require a great amount of care and attention, they are likely to reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness. Even pet therapy programs are thought to improve the general atmosphere for residents of assisted living facilities.