Why People With Pets Are Happier And Healthier
They say money can’t buy love, but if you’ve ever bought a family pet from a pet store or breeder, you know that’s not true. In the time it takes to strap your new puppy or kitten in the car, you’re already head over heels.
The same goes for adopted pets, of course. And it’s a good thing that our attachment to animals is so sudden. From training and vet bills to the knowledge that your beautiful furniture will never be the same, pet ownership comes with sacrifices. But there’s a reason why humans are so inclined to be dog people, cat people, or both; or bird people, or bunny people, or lizard people, and so on. It’s because having pets makes us happier, and there are overall health benefits too — so long as you’re not allergic to the pet of your dreams.
Pets Make Us Physically And Mentally Healthier
There’s a reason why, around finals time, some colleges bring puppies on campus for students to play with as a form of stress-relief. Having a dog around can alleviate mental stress, ease feelings of depression, lower blood pressure and even reduce your risk of heart disease. This is partially because, as a dog owner, you’ll get more exercise by default. According to one Japanese study, dog owners were 54 percent more likely than non dog-owners to get the recommended amount of daily exercise.
They’ll Teach You The Meaning of Love At First Sight
Speaking of the impact on your heart, that unconditional love you get from your pet is pretty powerful. In a 2015 study published in the Science journal, researchers found that gazing into your dog’s eyes increases oxytocin, the same hormone that bonds humans to one another. Moreover, “mutual gazing increased oxytocin levels, and sniffing oxytocin increased gazing in dogs, an effect that transferred to their owners.”
They Can Make Your Skin Glow
Having dogs around can even reduce children’s risk of developing eczema if they’ve been around since the baby was born. A study from the Journal of Pediatrics found that children with a family dog were less likely to develop eczema, even if they were allergic to the dog.
They Make The Best Wingmen
According to a survey from Dognition, a citizen science program that explores the relationship between dogs and humans, 82 percent of people feel more confident approaching a stranger they find attractive if their dog is by their side. In a related survey from Purina, researchers found that more than half of people (54 percent) believe their pet makes a great conversation starter. Six out of 10 people said that they would consider a person more attractive if they had a dog — which may also be a third of men surveyed said that they believe owning a dog would make them more attractive if they were single. “Not only do pets serve as a great conversation starter, but studies have also shown that pets can help release ‘feel good’ hormones in humans, including high levels of oxytocin also known in some circles as the ‘love hormone’,” said Dr. Zara Boland, Purina veterinarian. “Whether it’s making friendly conversation or taking the first step in finding long-lasting love, pets create wonderful opportunities for people to connect on a vast spectrum of different levels.”
They Might Save Your Life
In addition to a critical crime-solving role where they can be used to track down missing people, dogs (and cats) have been trained to detect several types of cancer, low blood sugar and oncoming seizures. In a 2011 Japanese study, dogs were able to detect colorectal cancer in patients with a 98 percent accuracy rate just by smelling breath samples.
They Really Do Make You Happier
Pet owners really are happier than people without pets, according to a study from the American Psychological Association. “Pet owners had greater self-esteem, greater levels of exercise and physical fitness and they tended to be less lonely than nonowners,” researchers noted in a section on participants’ well-being. “In general, there was evidence on half of the wellbeing measures that pet owners fared better than nonowners.”
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