Why Pet Owners Lead Happier Lives (Even In Their Golden Years)
Have you ever thought about the fact that your pet might be making you healthier, besides making you happier each day? Plenty of studies have shown that pets have a healing effect on humans and scientists have made it clear that there's still a lot to reveal when it comes to the benefits coming from a human-pet relationship.
Studies from 2017 have even gone so far to state that your little ball of fur might actually make your life longer, and help you lead a higher quality life in your senior years as well. In order not to spoil all the incredible benefits your dog or cat might be bringing you, let's list out all of them and explain how are they even possible.
Healing Powers Of Pets On Human Well Being
1. Fewer Doctor Visits
An Australian National study analyzed how often pet owners visit the doctor compared to individuals that didn't own a pet. The results of the survey showed that both dog and cat owners had fewer annual doctor visits and were less likely to be on medication.
When you think long term, this not only means that you are healthier because of your pet, but guess what? - Your pet is actually saving you a lot of money over time.
2. Lower Risk Of Obesity
This is one of the reasons why owning a dog actually turns out to be more beneficial than owning a cat. Namely, a study found that dog owners maintained a lower body mass index than individuals that didn't own a dog, due to the daily exercise requirements of their four-legged companions.
Walking your dog daily might not seem like a significant activity that might change your well being for the better, but it looks like owning a dog is a great way not to slip into a sedentary lifestyle that is the n#1 culprit for the development of multiple diseases, including obesity and depression.
Having daily outdoor time is essential if you want to stay healthy, especially if you are in your golden years.
As we age, our metabolism slows down and our energy levels drop, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't get out and move. Needless to say, elderly people that stay active are less likely to gain weight which translates to a reduced risk of quite a wide specter of diseases - from heart diseases over decline in mental abilities to other types of illnesses.
3. Reduced Risk Of Heart Problems and Sleeping Difficulties
Reportedly, petting your dog or cat has powerful effects on your heart. And not only in the way that it makes your heart melt and puts that cheesy smile on your face. Believe it or not, but petting your four-legged pal reduces your blood pressure and heart rate, making your heart healthier and stronger.
A group of scientists from Sweden researched this topic and found that dog owners had an 11% lower risk of having a heart attack compared to people that didn't own a dog.
The same study we mentioned in the point n.1 stated that dog and cat owners were less likely to take medication for heart problems and sleeping difficulties than individuals that didn't have a pet. Needless to say, a healthier heart and a higher quality sleep, leads to a happier and a longer life.
Next time your dog wants to sleep next to you, you might actually want to snuggle a bit more than usual.
4. Less Stressed And Anxious
If you're a pet owner, you have probably experienced the calming benefits of having your pet around when everything seems to be falling apart. Is it the softness of your cat's fur, or that empathetic gaze your dog gives you when you're stressed out, anxious or sad?
Might be, but science has something else to add in this case. According to a study, pet owners are less likely to feel lonely or depressed. However, dog owners might be benefiting slightly more than cat owners because of their daily walking routines.
And we don't think in terms of being more active here. Namely, walking your dog comes along with an increased level of daily socialization. If you ever walked a dog, you must have had countless conversations with complete strangers about how old your dog is, what's his name, his breed, or simply about how cute your ball of fur is.
As much as this seems irrelevant for your overall health, daily socialization with other people is a fundamental way to keep our brains stimulated. Socialization is a segment that often lacks in the lives of elders, which is why a simple task as walking a dog every day might be preserving our mental health.
5. Better Mental Health
To continue the conversation about mental health benefits of having pets, we can't forget to mention a recent study that analyzed the relationship between dog ownership and its effect on dementia.
According to the study, owning a dog showed to have positive effect on patients with dementia. Although owning a dog doesn't have a direct influence on the development of dementia, through staying active and being more socialized with people during dog walks, people affected with dementia have seen a decrease in symptoms associated with the disease.
If you have grandparents, parents that are in their senior years, or you happen to be entering your golden years, think about these benefits of owning pet for the elderly, and you might grant yourself or your relatives a happier, longer life.
6. Better Sleep Quality
Last but not least, researchers at Mayo Clinic found that people slept much better when their dog was in the room. The assumption is that people actually have a greater sense of security and comfort when they sleep with their pets, making them have a more profound sleep.
Having good, healthy sleep is the prerequisite to feeling well and being healthy. Getting enough regenerative sleep ends up improving our mood, making us more productive, healthier and helps in pursuing smarter decisions.
Why Pet Owners Lead Happier Lives Key Takeaways
Who would have guessed that getting a dog or a cat would be an amazing way to make your life not only happier but healthier too? While it's no secret that our beloved pets manage to make us happier on a daily basis, but it seems that they are making us double the happy by keeping us fit, active, smiling and healthy.
In the end, your happiness is the reflection of your health. So, next time Fido or Fluffy get on your nerves, and your first impulse tells you to ignore them or tell them to go away, think about all the incredible ways your four-legged friend is improving your life and, instead, give them the warmest cuddle they deserve.