Do you have a pet in your life? A fur child you adore that adds a ton of happiness to every day? Or a scaly little lizard with a huge personality that makes you laugh? What about an aquarium full of googly eyed fish, wiggling their glorious, colourful tails? No matter the species, pet’s bring us so much joy… but I bet you didn’t know that they actually come with a ton of huge health benefits too!
Let’s talk about all of the magnificent ways that pets support your well-being:
My Life as an Animal Lover
I’ve been fortunate enough to have many animal friends in my life. I grew up with Labrador Retrievers and have always had a pet bunny. Even today, I have a little, fluffy monster rabbit named Puck that rules the living room (much to my cat’s dismay). My love of animals extends way further than the pets in my care… as a child I even turned every kiddie pool into a frog sanctuary and earned the nickname Elmyra at a very young age.
In my teens things got a little exotic when I landed a position as a Zookeeper Apprentice. It was wild (pun intended!) And I even spent quite some time working in the field of pet nutrition in my early 20s (you can learn more about what to look for in a pet food here).
These days I love to come home to Kiwi, my beautiful Calico cat. A good snuggle with her can soothe any woe, I swear! There is no comparison to the joy that animals can bring into your life.
But I didn’t know that our little bundles of fur (or scales, or whatever else) are actually amping up our health and potentially adding extra years to our life?! MIND. BLOWN!
Here’s how your pet babies are lending you a hand in the health department:
The Health Benefits of Having a Cat
You might think that your attention hogging, pat hungry fur child is selfishly concocting a plan for world domination and that you are little more than a pawn in their games (I have often wondered myself). But if you ignore the scheming, there are definitely some amazing personal benefits to welcoming a cat into your home.
Their purr might as well be magical!
A cat’s purr is an awesome healing mechanism that supports their well-being. It acts as a method of physical therapy and can even help with their bone density and ability to heal. But surprise, surprise, studies have shown that these benefits may also be transferred to you (source 1, source 2). Booyah! Purr vibrations can help muscle and bone health, relieve stress and symptoms of dyspnea, decrease blood pressure, lower the risk of heart attacks, and heal infections (source). So get your cuddle on!
It’s no wonder that this animal is a huge internet celebrity (or was that part of their world domination plan?)
How Your Dog Supports Your Wellness
Move over kitties, dogs have some awesomeness to add to the list too. These beautiful creatures are man’s best friend for a reason. And the health benefits they have to offer are nothing to shake a stick at (and not just because your dog will probably try and take it from you).
Studies have shown that just petting a dog lowers blood pressure and increases feelings of relaxation. Say what?! That’s the easiest, sweetest form of self care I’ve ever heard of! Then again, one scientific study discovered that simply meeting your dog’s gaze can increase levels of oxytocin, a hormone that helps us form bonds with others and feel more positive… so I may have spoken too soon.
Super bonus! Dog owners who have suffered from heart attacks are more likely to survive the year following their attack, regardless of its severity (source 1, source 2).
And hey, dogs arguably change your lifestyle more than any other companion animal. This makes you more active and leads to a stronger heart, lower cholesterol, improved sleep and all the other wonderful benefits of regular exercise. Playing with your dog helps to decrease the stress hormone cortisol and increases the almighty, mood balancing neurotransmitter serotonin. No wonder it’s impossible not to feel elated when you’re running around with your dog at the park.
Fish Get in on The Goodness as Well
No need to worry if you have allergies or are unable to welcome a furry friend into your home. It’s not just dogs and cats that have a lot of fantastic health benefits to offer. Don’t believe me? Just take a little peak at fish and you’ll see what I mean!
Have you ever noticed that dentists and other doctors often have aquariums in their waiting rooms? There’s a reason for that, and it’s not just about creating an ambiance. It’s all about Aquarium Therapy baby!
Aquariums have a soothing and relaxing quality that helps lower stress levels, reducing blood pressure and decreasing feelings of anxiety. Patients of doctors who have aquariums in their waiting rooms often need less pain medication, due to the calming, hypnosis like effects of Aquarium Therapy’s magic. That’s pretty amazing, right?!
It Doesn’t Matter if You Have a Cat, Dog, Fish or Something Else
All animals provide us with physical, mental and spiritual health benefits. Pets aid in the treatment of depression, donate to our cardiovascular health, and even decrease our yearly visits to the doctor by 15 to 20 percent (source). Pets make us healthier and more active, bring so much joy and happiness into our lives and their unique personalities make them wonderful additions to our families.
Before You Adopt
If you do plan on welcoming a pet into your home I encourage you to do plenty of research to make sure that you are making a well informed choice. An animal companion is a long term commitment, and while they are wonderful members of the family with so much to offer, they require a lot of time, money and care.
With approximately 7.6 million animals entering shelters every year in the United States alone, it’s so important that we all make a commitment to making our homes fur-ever homes if we wish to be pet parents. Please spay and neuter your fur babies and don’t forget to support your local animal shelter. There are so many homeless animals that are in need of a loving, forever home.
Do you have a pet at home? Tell me all about them! Are you surprised to hear about all the health benefits that they have to offer? Let me know in the comments below!
Health and love,
Thought of the day: I am surrounded by more goodness than I realize.
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What a super sweet post. I now have a dog but miss all of the therapeutic purrrrrs that came along with my 2 former cats. I do wonder though, if the costs outweighed the benefits though as they woke me incessantly every single night. Haha! Half kidding but really pets do so much for our well-being. Thanks for sharing!
You make a great point haha! Sleep is definitely important. Dogs have so much goodness to offer too – so I’m sure you’re getting tons of benefits ^^. Pet parents are pretty lucky! <3
What an amazing post! My fur baby is everything but I had no idea how much he positively impacted my health! Thank you for sharing!
Aww I’m so happy to hear that Emily! What kind of fur baby do you have? I can definitely relate – I’m a pretty proud cat and bunny mama <3. They are wonderful little family members for sure. I hope you get tons of pats and cuddles in with your furry little friend tonight! So glad you learned something new about how awesome they are.
So informative! Definitely using this to convince my roommate to get a dog
I’m so glad you liked it! Hope this helps you plead your case. Life is better with a dog ;).
Now there is no way my parents can refuse me another cat!
Hahaha I love it! Hope you get the chance to adopt a furry little friend Bronx. Let me know if you do. Excited for you!
I actually have 2 already, but a third is always a good idea 😜😜
I have a cat and a dog, so yay for me. 🙂 I always find that my cat’s purr, is a little like chanting OM, the vibration is very soothing and calming, even to me. I also think that my dog definitely contributes to my health, especially during the winter months. I have to take her out on those cold winter days. I know that if I didn’t have a dog, I wouldn’t venture out, so walking her keeps me in check. Thank you for sharing. I think that we often overlook what impact they can have on us.
Oh I love that. The purr as an OM! My cat actually loves to sit on my yoga matt when I do yoga or meditate. She loves to watch and her purr has really become part of the experience. But I’ve never thought of it as her little chanting OM. I will from now on, thank you Dagmara! <3
And I couldn't agree more. Growing up with a dog definitely got me out, even in the coldest days. They give us a reason to be active every day. Pet parents are all so blessed! ^^
Before I started traveling I always had a dog. Now I only have a cactus… haha, Better than nothing I guess.
Hey plants are pretty wonderful too! That’s a whole other post – but you’re definitely supporting your health in a different way :). And that’s really good of you – as responsible pet parents we need to make sure we’re able to commit to everything, and traveling a lot can make it pretty difficult. So you’re awesome for knowing that having a pet right now wouldn’t work out. I hope that someday you get to adopt a new furry friend if that’s what you want <3.
Great article! We had our last cat for 19 years, and I definitely think there are health benefits. He relieved my stress, if nothing else! We had to say good-bye to him last November, and recently decided our lives were not complete without a furry baby. So we now have a 2-month-old kitten. With all the scratches we have accumulated, I’m not sure how good he is for our health! But the snuggles are definitely worth it!
I’m so sorry to hear that you lost your baby! That’s the hardest part of being a pet parent. 19 years is amazing – you obviously did a wonderful job and gave him a great life. As for your little bundle of chaos and joy – I’m sure he’ll calm down someday, and hopefully be a little nicer to your skin haha! Until then, enjoy the snuggles. <3 It must be nice to have a little furry bundle in your home again :).
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Thanks for sharing. Pets are so important, I understand why people don’t have them. But I think these health benefits are reasons to have them.
I’m so glad you enjoyed it Echo! I couldn’t agree more – pets are so wonderful. But they’re definitely not right for everyone, and I think it’s so important that people know what they’re getting into before hand. Pets deserve to be welcomes into a forever home after all. But for all of us pet parents, we’re pretty damn lucky ^^.
I don’t have pet. I come from a family that bakes at home for a living. So, having pets (with the furs getting all over is just not a good mix with baking). Glad that they bring so much joy and benefits to the people who have them.
Oh goodness, I can see how that would be a terrible mix haha. I’ve definitely experiences the ‘cat fur in your food’ scenario…. not something you want in your own food, better yet food you’re making for others! Good call <3. It must be so fun to bake for a living. I bet you create wonderful things Herlina!
I’ve been really wanting something furry for a long time now. My husband and I have considered a cat. I never thought about there being health benefits behind having pets though! That is awesome. I will have to tell him, maybe it will help with the furry animal situation:)
Also, I just discovered your blog and I am LOVING it 🙂
Aww I’m so glad this helps to reinforce your decision! Cats are so wonderful. I’m pretty pleased with Kiwi. She has us wrapped around her little paws haha. Let me know if you adopt one! I’m really excited for you.
And thank you sweetheart! That’s so kind of you to say and it means the world to me. Glad to have you in the Health-Esteem tribe <3. Your fall post has me really excited to make an fall wreath! :)
Sarah Dew - A Simple and Contented Life
I grew up with lots of pets and loved it. We’ve just got a puppy and the difference it’s made to our family already is incredible. It’s brought us closer together, it’s very relaxing and my boys love to play with him. Our teenage son used to live in his room but now we see him all the time because he wants to be with the puppy!
Nice post. I have a dog and he’s always waiting for me at the gate when I reach home from work. It’s a joyful feeling no words can describe 🙂
Lovely post and really well researched! Thanks for sharing this. I’m really looking forward to being able to have a pet again.
My husband wants a dog, he would be happy to know the health benefits