The smile you get when you come home to your pet is probably just one of many reasons you were excited to add them to your family. Its loyalty, companionship and perhaps goofy attitude can instantly lift your mood. That may not seem like much day-to-day, but pets are doing more for your health than you might realize.
According to a recent American Pet Product Association survey, 68 percent of U.S. households own a pet. Dogs, cats, freshwater fish and birds were the top animals among pet ownership. BCBSKS vice president of medical affairs and chief medical officer Dr. Michael Atwood, CHIE, explains that pets can help refocus your energy, especially if you have the opportunity to take them on a walk.
“Pets are always happy to listen and make you enjoy the moment when you take time to play with them. They offer a friend with no conditions and help to keep you connected and less worried about yourself.
“There is no better pick-me-up after a long day than to have your dog shower you with genuine excitement and happiness when you return home. What an invitation to get outside and enjoy the day with a walk together,” he said.
In fact, taking a walk with your pet can lead owners to several health benefits. A daily walking routine can help keep your cholesterol and triglyceride levels in check. Other benefits of pet ownership include:
- Stress relief – The warm, happy feeling we get after seeing our pets plays a key part in calming the body. Oxytocin is released which can help to lower the stress hormone cortisol.
- Decrease in blood pressure – When you take time to spend a few minutes petting your cat or dog, you’re actually working to lower your blood pressure.
- Mental health – The unwavering attention your pet gives you is very powerful in helping to ward off feelings of depression or loneliness. Because pets love their owners unconditionally, some owners have also experienced an increase in self-confidence and sense of belonging.