It’s a well-known fact that research has found there are many health benefits to having a pet. Having a friendly creature of nearly any domesticated species around relieves stress and loneliness, which in turn leads to better cardio health and lower blood pressure. Owning a dog who needs to be walked every day is a tremendous motive for getting more exercise than you otherwise would.
But our beloved dogs, cats, horses and other animals can have other, more surprising benefits for our well-being, though some of these may not apply to all species.
Immune system: Children who grow up around animals, especially in a farm setting with dogs, cats, chickens and other livestock, are less likely to develop allergies and more likely to develop an immunity to bacteria.
Chronic pain: Owners who suffer from migraines or arthritis report being better able to cope with that pain, possibly related to the emotional support and stress reduction pets bring. In this case having smaller, quieter pets may provide more support.
Cancer: Some dogs have been able to detect certain types of cancer by smell, and patients receiving cancer treatments who have pets at home or see them in therapeutic settings report improved physical and mental health.
Sense of purpose: Feeling like one’s life has purpose is tied to many mental and physical health benefits, and devoting your time and attention to caring for your loving pets is a great way to find and maintain that feeling, especially for those who live alone.
Improved social life: Having a dog gets you out of the house, so that’s already a plus for your socialization. Most of them are very social themselves and can make friends much more quickly than humans, and help you bond with other dog owners. Dog parks lead to doggie play dates and lifelong friendships.
Sense of security: Dogs can be an effective deterrent to burglaries, which allows their owners to develop a sense of safety. This can provide mental and physical health benefits.