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6 ways your pet can make you healthier

Ask any pet owner and they’ll gladly share the many reasons that they love having an animal in their household.

Pets are an important part of many families across Australia, but did you know that pet ownership actually has a number of important health benefits?

Here are just some of the reasons that a furry, feathered or scaly friend can benefit your mental and physical health:

Increased activity levels

Just like humans, pets need regular exercise to stay healthy. Dogs, in particular, make for excellent exercise companions, providing not only company but a degree of accountability. The fact that your pup is relying on you to take them for their daily walk is a great incentive to get out the door and get moving.

Improved heart health

A number of studies have found that owning a dog may be connected with better heart health. Harvard Health Publishing reports that pet ownership, especially having a dog, is probably associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease and that owning a dog is associated with lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. This may be in part due to the positive effect that pet ownership can have on a person’s stress levels - more on that later!

Enhanced social life

One of the most difficult parts of making new friends, especially as an adult, is finding opportunities to meet and socialise with other people. Owning a pet provides an opportunity to engage with other people in the community. Whether you’re playing in the local dog park, going for a walk or even waiting at the vet, just the fact that you own a pet means that you have something in common to discuss with other animal lovers. Plus, having a pet with you can make you seem more approachable, providing an opportunity for potential friends to strike up a conversation.

Decreased feelings of loneliness

Most of us experience feelings of loneliness at one point or another. Being able to express love to your pet through talking or affection can alleviate these feelings. Plus, the unconditional love of a pet is particularly reassuring during times of loneliness. Having a pet who’s excited to see you when you return home is especially comforting, particularly for people who live alone.

Strengthened immune system

A 2004 study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found that dogs and cats lower a child’s chances of becoming allergic to pets by up to 33%. A 2016 study in The New England Journal of Medicine supported this principle, finding that children who grew up close to barnyard animals had lower rates of asthma than their pet-less counterparts. While it’s obviously important to wash or clean your pet regularly, the bacteria that they carry can diversify the microbiome in your home, potentially bolstering the immune system of your family members.

Stress reduction

We all know the calming effect that a hug from a loved one can have - and pets are no exception. Affection and physical touch cause a release of a hormone called oxytocin, also known as the ‘love hormone’. This chemical helps social bonding and - importantly - helps to regulate stress.

The role of mindfulness is increasingly being recognised as part of stress management, and pets may help you to practice mindfulness and being present in the moment. Playing with or cuddling your pet can help to disrupt unhelpful or negative thought patterns, providing a pleasant distraction from your worries.

At Capital Chemist, we love our pets. Head to our Facebook page to meet some of the animals that are part of the Capital Chemist family.


You may also be interested in the following:

Effects of Diet & Lifestyle on Blood Pressure
6 effects stress has on your body
At home exercises to get you moving
6 tips to beat the winter blues