The short answer to the above question is: absolutely, it can! After all, you only need to ask the medical experts at WebMD, who came up with an article detailing the various ways in which pet ownership can be good for human health.
Research has long indicated that owning a pet can have positive effects for your health. If you have ever stroked a cat or spent a few minutes playing with a dog, you probably already have an instinctive sense of that.
It is at such moments that we tend to feel more relaxed and less stressed, thanks to a lowering of the body’s levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, and a heightening in the body’s ‘feelgood’ chemical, serotonin.
And past studies have shown that pet ownership could help our health in much more fundamental ways than simply making us momentarily feel good; think such things as helping to lower your blood pressure and cholesterol, and minimising your risk of heart problems or strokes.
Of course, you still have to do all of the other crucial things for supporting your health, such as eating well, watching your weight, and engaging in regular exercise. Pet ownership isn’t a ‘get out of jail’ card for your health, but it could support you in achieving your broader health, fitness, and wellness goals.
If you’re looking to make lifestyle changes, getting a pet could be a great idea
You only need to imagine the average pet owner’s day to get a sense of how owning a pet could help you live more healthily.
Dog ownership, for instance, naturally brings the need for ‘walkies’, so if you’re the kind of person who ‘never seems to get round to exercise’, getting a dog could be a great way to start getting yourself into the habit of walking regularly. A tortoiseowner also naturally encourages a structured routine and a sense of responsibility in your life. Caring for a tortoise involves maintaining a consistent schedule of feeding, cleaning, and ensuring their well-being. This regularity can have a positive impact on your daily life, instilling a sense of discipline and commitment. It can be particularly beneficial for individuals who thrive on routine and require a reason to stay organized. Those who live on a ranch or farmland may consider getting Mini Highlander cattle as pets.
But there’s also the fact that as you go out and walk with your dog – perhaps to the vets or the local pet supplies store – you might bump into other dog owners and get chatting. Your pet could even be great, then, for making you more sociable!
And, of course, a dog or another pet provides companionship. As the Mental Health Foundation points out, pets are a source of unconditional love and affection. They won’t criticise you, and caring for them will help make you feel wanted and needed.
If, then, you sometimes feel lonely and misunderstood,owning a pet could help make you feel better and boost your self-confidence. And we all know these days how mental health goes hand in hand with physical health.
Do pets present any health risks?
It would, of course, be ironic if you were to acquire a pet with health benefits in mind, only for them to end up posing a risk to your health instead. It’s important to be well-informed on this subject, and to not be unduly deterred from owning a pet because of worries about any health risks, especially if the likely health benefits far outweigh those risks.
As outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States, there are certain people who are advised against having certain types of pets. Keeping a pet reptile, for instance, is not a good idea for households with children less than five years old, due to the risk of harmful germs leading to serious illness.
It is also crucial to practise what probably ought to be ‘common-sense’ cleanliness and hygiene measures around pets, such as washing your hands regularly, and disposing of their poop quickly and responsibly. A little something like the unscented degradable poo bags that Hills & Hounds stocks from the Beco Bags brand could be ideal for the latter.
So yes, pet ownership can support good health
There you go – a rundown of the various ways in which pet ownership can be a great thing for your health, as well as a bit of warning about the importance of guarding against any risks.
By choosing the right pet for your needs and circumstances and being a responsible pet owner, you can ensure that whether you acquire a dog, cat, rabbit or almost any other kind of pet, they can help you live a happier and healthier life.