Pets: They are our dear, loyal companions and integral parts of our family. They bring us joy (and sometimes frustration when they chew our favorite shoes), but can they actually be good for our health?
Many studies were conducted analyzing the effect pet ownership has on human health, psychological well-being, and longevity. But, there are conflicting results. Some studies demonstrate a positive impact on our health, while other researchers state this claim is merely an unsubstantiated hypothesis.
It may make sense to think of the way pets influence our mood and thus mental health. Since mental health issues like depression and stress can impact our physical health, does that mean there could be a positive correlation?
An article on the popular medical information site WebMD, titled 5 Ways Pets Can Improve Your Health, argues in favor of a positive impact on health.
The article explains that individuals who grew up in homes with pets had less risk for allergies and asthma due to the exposure to pet dander and fur.
Another benefit the article notes is aiding in the treatment for depression as the interaction with animals can elevate levels of dopamine and serotonin in the brain.
Companionship and increased exercise are also benefits explained as canine owners must take their pups for walks frequently.
Finally, the article discusses how pet ownership can actually be good for your heart. One study example provided indicated that pet owners have been linked to lower blood pressure as a result of decreased levels of stress.
Whether or not you agree with the results of clinical studies, one thing is for sure: Most pet owners could not imagine life without their beloved furry pals.