Top 10 Reasons to be Thankful for Pets

 

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1- Pets love unconditionally.

2- Pets are good for your health, improving immunity, mental well-being, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, heart health, and more.

3- Pets strengthen family bonds.

4- Pets — namely dogs — provide a great excuse to exercise.

5- Pets teach children empathy, social skills, and responsibility.

6- Pets give you a chemical boost of feel-good serotonin and dopamine.

7- Pets lessen feelings of loneliness.

8- Pets help you meet people and make new friends.

9- Pets are great listeners, eager to hear about your day.

10- Pets are a source of comfort.

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picm_nov2014First published in Pets in the City Magazine, November 2014

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Pets for Your Health: Social Well-Being

 

Pets are good for your social well-being.

Not only do you bond to your pet, but she can also open the doors for meeting others, including possible love connections.

For example, dogs are natural people magnets. With their charm, they lure in others, who want to pet them, talk about them, or find a segue to talk about their own animals and experiences. This is true for people who are otherwise shy. A pet provides a common connection, a subject to which most of us can relate.

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With our busy lives, pets draw us out of our insular shells and connect to others. The pets may be the starting point for the contact, but friendships grow from there.

Pets for Your Health: Stronger Immunity

 

Pets are good for your well-being, including your immunity.

For example, multiple studies have shown that pets reduce stress and depression. By reducing stress and depression, pets bolster our immune systems, keeping us healthier.

Growing up with pets also strengthens our immunity, lessening our risk for allergies and asthma. It used to be thought that having pets increased our chances of developing allergies. According to a growing number of studies, the opposite is true.

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Allergies are hypersensitive disorders, recognizing normally harmless substances as threats. Certain white blood cells called mast cells and basophils are activated, resulting in an inflammatory response which can range from uncomfortable (such as red eyes, itchiness, runny nose, eczema, and hives) to dangerous (anaphylaxis).

By being around cats, dogs, or even farm animals while young, our immune systems are exposed early to potential allergens and strengthened.

In one study, infants living in a home with dogs were less likely to develop pet allergies: 19% versus 33%. The babies also had higher levels of some immune system chemicals, and they were less likely to have eczema, a common skin allergy condition.

An Irish proverb says, “A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.” Add in a playful pup or a cuddly kitten, and the formula is complete.

 

Pets for Your Health: Heart

 

Pets are good for your heart.

Sure, they fill your heart with love.  But they also do your heart good.

For one, studies repeatedly show that pets reduce stress, anxiety, and blood pressure, all which contribute to heart disease. Less stress and lower blood pressure = less risk of developing heart disease. For example, a study shows that male pet owners have less signs of heart disease (such as lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels) than men without pets.

Pets also encourage more physical activity, such as dog walking. According to one study, dog owners are more likely to walk and be active than non-dog owners. They were 54 percent more likely to engage in the recommended level of physical activity. People who are active are less likely to develop cardiovascular disease.

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For heart attack patients, those with pets survive longer than those patients without pets. According to the American Heart Association, pet ownership is likely associated with reduced heart disease risk factors and with increased survival among patients.

So, take heart in the good news, knowing that having a pet is good for you. After all, your pet has your well-being at heart.

Pets for Your Health: Peace and Calm

 

Pets are good for your well-being. For example, multiple studies have shown that pets reduce stress and depression.

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When we are stressed, our bodies produce more harmful hormones, such as cortisol and norepinephrine. These lower our immunity, making us more susceptible to illness and disease. By reducing stress and depression, pets thus bolster our immune systems, keeping us healthier.

Stress also raises our blood pressure. Again, studies show that pets lower blood pressure readings. In one study, people in stressful situations who also had pets had better blood pressure readings than people without pets.

Interactions with our pets also increase “good” hormones like serotonin and dopamine that have calming effects and are associated with happiness.

Remember the adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor a way”? While no one would argue the benefits of fiber, the doctor should add pets to the prescription.