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5 health benefits of spending time with pets

Whether you’re a pet owner or not, all of us have fallen for those puppy dog eyes at some point. While they can be cute, pets can also provide a wide range of health benefits.

Here are 5 ways pets can improve your health:

1. Lower risk of heart conditions

Being around pets is associated with lower levels of stress, which can lead to lower blood pressure and decreased risk of developing a cardiovascular disease. In fact, a study found that high-stress individuals who owned cats were less likely to be at risk of fatal heart conditions. 

2. Settle anxiety

UCLA research revealed that the simple act of petting animals lowers levels of anxiety by increasing your body’s production of mood-boosting hormones such as serotonin, oxytocin, and prolactin. Studies have also shown that caring for a pet can help you keep routine, give life purpose or meaning, decrease feelings of isolation and provide companionship, all of which mediate the symptoms of anxiety. 

3. Manage pain

In a Loyola University study, it was found that patients who received animal-assisted therapy after total joint replacement surgery were less likely to require pain management medications. Having the support of a pet during challenging times can add to your quality of life, and mitigate pain. 

4. Increase physical activity

Research shows that dog owners are more likely to go on walks, and therefore more likely to meet physical activity guidelines in the UK. Walking your dog doesn’t have to be a chore, since it can also help you stay active and healthy.

5. Support wellbeing

Human to non-human contact, such as between people and their pets, is proven to provide feelings of “comfort, relaxation, and reciprocity” that lead to wellbeing. During times of social isolation, pets have the ability to give people a sense of joy and love, which has positive effects on their health and wellbeing.