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The Perks of Having a Pet

Owning a pet can have a wide array of therapeutic and health benefits. Those who have a pet know the joy that goes along with them but may not realize the benefits that accompany playing or snuggling with their furry friend. The benefits extend far beyond the love they show as we are eagerly met at the front door or the warmth they provide as they lay next to us. Studies are scientifically exploring the benefits of the human-animal bond. The American Heart Association has linked the ownership of pets, especially dogs, with a reduced risk for heart disease and greater longevity.

Studies have also found that:

  • Simply petting your cat or dog can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine (the feel-good nerve transmitters in our brains), which can calm and relax you. Pets have the unique ability to calm and soothe.
  • Pet owners are less likely to suffer from depression.
  • People with pets have lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels which may reduce the risk of heart attacks down the road. Pets can help lower heart rates and reduce muscle tension.
  • Heart attack patients with pets survive longer that those without.
  • Pets can ease feelings of stress. Chronic stress can increase your risk of a number of health problems from heart disease to cancer.
  • Pet owners over age 65 make 30 percent fewer visits to their doctors than those without pets.
  • Pets can provide people with a sense of purpose, especially the elderly and those who live alone.

While people with dogs often experience the most significant health benefits, studies have shown that aquariums filled with brightly colored fish can also lower stress and produce a calming effect.

On a much lighter note… Single?? Pets can be a great conversation starter, and dogs are natural date magnets. Who wouldn’t want to pet and talk with that dog on the end of your leash? With more and more dog parks, it is easier for people to get out, socialize and meet others while providing their dogs with fun and exercise at the same time.

But… pet ownership, rather it be a dog, cat, horse, or whatever your pet of choice is, is not for everyone. Becoming a pet “parent” is a big decision that should not be made lightly. Pets require, and deserve, a lot of our resources including: time, money, and not to mention our love.

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