Do you identify as a dog person, or perhaps a crazy cat lady? Or maybe you’re an equal opportunity pet lover and proud member of both the feline and canine camp, with a lizard, fish or bird in the menagerie, too? If so, studies show that you also then have a higher chance of belonging to the “healthier human” camp.
Pets can enhance our lives and our health in numerous ways. Here are three:
- Pets improve our heart health. If you’re a pet owner, chances are you have better heart health than the pet-less, says an American Heart Association study. Pet owners, especially dog owners and dog walkers, get more exercise than many Americans, and even just petting a dog or cat, or having a cat curl up and purr in your lap, is a stress reducer, and therefore a heart-helper.
- Pets boost our mood and sense of connection. Just ask the millions of people who post and share cat videos on Facebook. Animals elicit smiles. According to a study published by the American Psychological Association, pets offer substantial social support for humans, too. This is one reason why pet therapy programs in hospitals, including Roper St. Francis facilities, is so popular. Pets warm hearts.
- Pets provide a sense of purpose. Domestic pets require regular care. For retirees and housebound patients in particular, tending to animals can offer a sense of routine and structure, and bring fulfillment. Children also benefit from routines and learn about responsibility by helping care for their pets.
If you’re considering adding a pet to your family in the New Year, you’ve got a healthy excuse to find a new four-legged friend. Local animal shelters including Pet Helpers and the Charleston Animal Society will be more than happy to help you adopt a pet who needs a home. It’ll be a good for both of you!