What would we do without our pets? Whether you have a pet or not, everyone can attest to the joy that animals bring to the lives of so many people. Personally, I aspire to be as happy as my dogs are when I or any of my family members comes home to greet them. Whether it’s a dog, cat, bird, or snake, pets can be wonderful companions and will always love you unconditionally. You may think it takes a ton of work to keep an animal healthy and happy, but have you considered the ways in which they can benefit your health as well?
There’s a reason that therapy dogs are so successful and widely used—animals can lower your stress levels substantially. Many sources emphasize the long list of health benefits that can come from having pets. For example, people who own pets tend to have significantly lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. A lot of this is because pets like dogs need to be walked, so taking care of your dog gives you the chance to exercise and keep yourself healthy as well. At the same time, the evidence of better cholesterol is more wide spread than just people who walk their pets frequently, making the finding more significant.
Another way in which pets help your health are by helping you deal with pain. It isn’t clear why, but pets’ ability to reduce anxiety extends to reducing chronic pain such as migraines or arthritis. According to a study from Loyola University, people who use pet therapy while recovering from surgery may need significantly less pain medication than those who do not. That’s an amazing result, and is not surprising when you consider how frequently dogs are present in hospitals, especially in children’s wards. They have a real effect on mood and anxiety, and on healing as a result.
Pets also have the potential to lower blood pressure, especially in hypertensive or high-risk patients (CDC). This finding especially stresses the fact that even if you think you may not have room in your life for a furry friend, you should consider how it will help you in the long run, even putting the “unconditional love and companionship” piece aside.
With that being said, of course it’s important to keep the animal’s wellbeing in mind at all times. You should not adopt a pet unless you have the time and means to give it the love it deserves. It’s important to take your pets to regular checkups, get their shots, and make a real effort to train them. I recently saw a tweet that said “My husband has been filling my dog’s water bowls with expensive, reverse osmosis water. When I asked him what I was doing, he said ‘They would do the same for me!’” This man has the right idea—your pets deserve the best. A company called Pet Wellbeing has exactly the right idea as well; they make natural products for over 120 issues affecting cats and dogs. Their mantra is “when your pet is healthy, you’re happy,” and that’s exactly my point! Many people want to adopt pets in college to reduce stress, but if you have a full class load and not much free time, it can be unfair and even cruel to the animal. When you adopt at the right time, you’ll gain a new best friend!