In America, 64% of households own a pet according to the American Veterinary Association’s 2017-2018 demographics. Since COVID-19, as officials encouraged us to stay home, pet adoptions sky rocketed. People needed the companionship that a dog or cat can provide. But there is even more of a benefit with pets – owning a pet is healthy for humans.
Physical Health Benefits
Owning a pet brings more than an opportunity to exercise. The CDC reported that pets can also decrease blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels – all contributing factors to heart health. Research suggests that pet owners are 30% less likely to suffer a heart attack, and 40% less likely to suffer a stroke. Pets also improve human immune systems strengthening them to fight off infections. Studies have proven repeatedly, dog or cat, that owning a pet is healthy.
Human-animal bonding and interaction have proven to reduce stress, anxiety and depression. Positive human-animal interaction relates to the changes in physiological variables both in humans and animals, including a reduction of subjective psychological stress (fear, anxiety) and an increase of oxytocin levels in the brain. Oxytocin, is also referred to as the “love hormone”. Humans are in love or bonding with friends socially upon the release of this hormone. Science shows that these biological responses have measurable clinical effects.
We’ve known that pets provide companionship for the lonely. They also provide a sense of security and routine creating emotional and social support. Major institutions in human medicine are increasingly recognizing the benefits of pets to human health. Animal-assisted therapy is on the rise in hospitals and in homes. Not only is it just fun to play with a cat or dog, but science shows that owning a pet is healthy for humans too!