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Five unexpected benefits of owning a pet.

PURINA ONE
Thanks to our brand partner, PURINA ONE

There are approximately one million benefits to owning a pet.

There are the cuddles, the excitement, the companionship, the fun, the hilarity, the friendship – the list goes on.

Personally, my dog is great at conversations. He knows when I’m speaking to him and clearly responds with facial expressions. Often I ask him to “use his words” but we’re not quite there yet.

I can say without reservation that he’s my best friend. I tell him about my day, we cuddle late at night and go on LOTS of adventures.

Not only do pets bring us unprecedented joy, but owning one brings a whole host of physical and psychological health benefits.

So don’t take my word for it, science says having a pet is good for you.

1. Increased cardiovascular health

Owning a pet lowers blood pressure and, in men, cholesterol. A study by Vormbrock and Grossberg demonstrated the ‘pet effect’ – that human-dog interactions, specifically talking to and patting a dog, are associated with lower blood pressure than interaction with other humans.

THANK GOD. I’m never speaking to another human again.

Patting your dog or cat is associated with lower blood pressure than interaction with other humans. Image: Pexels.

2. Increased physical activity

Apart from the substantial energy it takes to clean up after your pet when they’ve had an ‘accident’ or ripped up your favourite piece of furniture, pets keep you accountable when it comes to exercise.

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Oh, do you not feel like going for a walk today? Well, that’s a shame.  Because you’re going anyway, given that the little guy in the corner isn’t going to stop looking at you and crying/running from one end of the house to the other/doing backflips, until you take him.  They are like personal trainers, except more annoying and MUCH cuter.

3. Lower rates of depression and anxiety

Ian Cook, psychiatrist and director of the Depression Research and Clinic Program at UCLA, says “Pets offer an unconditional love that can be very helpful to people with depression.”

“Pets offer an unconditional love that can be very helpful to people with depression.” Image: iStock.

Research shows that owning a pet can reduce tension and stress hormones. Playing with a dog or cat also releases the neurochemicals serotonin and dopamine, which improve mood.

Studies have found that dog owners are less likely to be depressed than those without pets.

4. Fewer trips to the doctor

Animal companionship has been shown time and time again to be associated with less visits to the doctor, for children, adults, and the elderly alike.

Pet owners over the age of 65 visit the doctor 30 per cent less than their pet-less counterparts.

Dr. Judith M. Siegel, who has conducted research in this area, suggested that pets might provide the companionship and acceptance other people seek from health care professionals.

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"Pet owners over the age of 65 visit the doctor 30 per cent less than their pet-less counterparts." Image: Pexels.

5. Higher self-esteem

Obviously having a pet who loves you no matter what and looks at you as though you’re the most beautiful person on earth is great for your self-esteem. But on a broader scale, pet owners in general have greater self-esteem than people who don’t own pets.

McConnell et al. believe this is because our pets make us feel as though we belong, and offer substantial social support.

Pet owners report receiving as much support from their pets as they do from family members. And this isn’t because they’re lonely people with little social interaction (that’s…that’s just me), but because they extend their human interactions to pets.

Owning a pet has incalculable benefits for our physical and psychological health, as well as our pets’ health. So next time you’re scrolling through Instagram or Facebook, looking at adorable dog and cat memes, maybe consider getting a real one.

You can always say it’s for your health.

What do you love most about your pet?

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