Our animal companions bring us friendship, comfort, unconditional love and a myriad of health benefits. Research shows that having a bond with an animal at home makes people more fit, less stressed and happier.
For example, studies have found that:
Having an animal companion, especially a dog, lowers your risk for heart disease and helps you live longer.
People with dogs are less likely to be depressed.
Your body releases calming and relaxing hormones when you play with a dog or hold a purring cat in your lap.
People who own a pet have lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
People over 65 who own a pet make 30 percent fewer visits to the doctor than seniors who do not have a pet. Many feel a sense of self-worth and optimism when they take care of a pet. If you live alone, pets also provide companionship, which helps prevent illness and can even help you live longer.
Having a dog can help you socialize with neighbors while out for walks or at the dog park. Walking a dog is good exercise, too. An indoor cat can be a better option for seniors with mobility issues who still want to share their home with an animal companion. If you are prepared to take on the responsibility of caring for a dog or cat, head to a shelter and find your new best friend for life.
Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; HelpGuide.org; National Institutes of Health