It’s not a secret that pets can help you feel good about yourself and your surroundings. When you come home to the soft purring of your cat, or your dog happily wagging its tail at you, the sudden wave of calm and joy that you experience is not just a by-product of your imagination. A lot of research has already established the fact that your furry friend can be good both for your physical and mental health.

Pets are almost always there for you and can provide unconditional love and acceptance. The owner and the pet can create a bond and a level of companionship that can spell a big difference on someone’s mental health, not to mention the extra cardio activity that you get when you walk, run or play with them. Read on to discover more about the surprising ways your pets can be good for your health.

1. Your pets may contribute to the lowering of your cholesterol levels.

Seems impossible? Not really. If you have a dog, those everyday walks you do with them actually aids in lowering your cholesterol levels. It keeps your blood pumping and strengthens your heart muscles. A survey conducted by the Australian National Heart Foundation has shown that individuals who own pets, especially men, tend to have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels than those who don’t.

2. Pets can help relieve your stress.

Being in the same room with your pet can bring on some calming effects on your entire system. When owners look lovingly at their favourite companion animals, oxytocin gets released in the brain—a powerful neurochemical that induces the feeling of
happiness. Its release into the body is also accompanied by the decrease in the levels of cortisol, the hormone associated with stress.

3. Pets can help lower your blood pressure.

Petting your kitty or your lovable pooch can create a win-win situation for both sides—the activity helps to relax you and brings your BP down to acceptable levels while your pet gets totally pleased.

4. Pets can help get you fit

Dogs are probably the best companion when going for walk—even better than a friend. A study conducted by researchers from the University of Missouri have established that dog walkers have
improved their fitness levels more than those people who walked or jogged with other people. On a separate study, it was found out that people who own dogs walk around 300 minutes a week on average, while those who don’t own pets only walk for 168 minutes a week.

5. Pets can lower your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.

Lower stress, cholesterol and blood pressure levels can also reduce one’s risk for the development of heart-related diseases. Back in 2013, the American Heart Association reviewed a series of studies that examined the effects of owning pets on reducing cardiovascular disease risks. With this, they have concluded that owning pets, particularly dogs, is associated with risk reduction and helps in increasing one’s survival rate from the disease.

6. Pets may prevent allergies in children

If you grew up having a pet as a kid, then you maybe in luck. A study that was published in the journal Clinical and Experimental Allergy showed that children who got exposed to pets before they were six months old are less likely to be prone to allergies as they grow older. During the first year of life, babies who were exposed to dogs in their household are less likely to develop allergies and asthma. Babies who were exposed early to dander and other allergens can develop immunity and may grow up to be less
reactive to them over time.

7. Pets may help you alleviate depression

Pets can provide their owners with social support. A study conducted by the British Psychological Society concluded that dogs can help in promoting the therapeutic and psychological well-being of their owners. They help improve their master’s self esteem, as well as the feeling of competence and autonomy. The
relationship between pets and their owners can bring out a very powerful and calming effect that benefits the health of an individual. When you are depressed, your pet can give you something to focus on instead of the negative things that can preoccupy your mind. When a pet pays attention to their
owners, they’re giving them both love and acceptance.

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