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.
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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