Health Benefits Of Pet Ownership

October 27, 2020 / Pet Owners

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Having A Pet Keeps You Healthy

Owning a pet can be beneficial to your health in many ways. I sometimes forget about my own health in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Trying to survive and make a living in this competitive world is taxing, to say the least. However, caring for my pets forces me to be on a routine. I cannot take the day off from feeding my cat or taking my dog out to go to the bathroom. When I take my Australian Cattle Dog (Wylie) on a long hike at sunset I am reminded that I too require exercise and fresh air and to just get out and take a walk sometimes. The perils of living in today’s society do not outweigh the benefits, but it can be difficult to navigate the pitfalls. Sometimes a pet can blunt the stress we feel and bring us to a more grounded place.

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It is well known by doctors and medical professionals alike that people with strong and healthy social connections, be it, family, friends, co-workers, etc., have fewer health problems overall. They also tend to live longer and report a happier more meaningful existence. It is also known that the loss of a loved one, a divorce, the loss of a job or career can cause havoc on someone’s life and may be detrimental to a person’s health. From psychological problems to actual physical manifestations of the stress, like heart palpitations, high blood pressure, and even strokes. A lack of positive social interaction and a lack of a proper social structure and support system can manifest in destructive behavior like alcohol and drug addiction, cutting, and suicide. It has been shown that this group of socially isolated people have a higher risk of mental illnesses like Depression, Anxiety, and OCD, to name a few. This group also tends to have a higher rate of accidents. If you have suffered during this unprecedented time, or are struggling to maintain right now, you may find our articles on Living And Working During Difficult Times.

Pets and Coronary Health Benefits

A study was done on patients with Coronary Artery Disease, Coronary Heart Disease, and Patients with a Myocardial Infarction or (MI) commonly known as a Heart Attack. The study shows that the survival rate among Cardiac patients one year later was almost 30% higher in the patients who owned pets vs the patients who did not own any pets. The scientists were trying to figure out if owning and caring for a pet had any of the same health benefits that we know we enjoy with human companionship.

Having a pet to take care of on a regular basis keeps you on a schedule. You have to get out of bed, feed the cat. You have to walk the dog and take him to new places to keep his mind engaged. You have to be concerned with your pet’s health and well-being when you are responsible for another living thing. You have to think about the food they eat, how much water they are drinking. Are they happy? Are they in pain? Am I doing everything I can to give them a good life? If anything, it takes the focus off of yourself and lets you stop thinking about all of your problems for a while.

It has been shown that in patients with high blood pressure, just being around animals reduced blood pressure and resting heart rate significantly. Letting a cat sit on your lap and purr while you softly pet her, playing with a puppy, watching two dogs play outside and run around, these are all stress reducers.

Pets As Stress Relievers For Better Health

In an article by the website, they report that 83% of American workers experience stress from their workplace. Most reported that the source of this workplace stress came from either their boss or a general lack of communication within the company. Women reported the highest average number when asked to rate their stress level on a scale of 1-10, they averaged a rate of 5.5. Americans age 30-49 are the most stressed group according to surveys.

One of my favorite writers, Elisabeth Gilbert, talks about, in her book “Big Magic,” thinking of your own body like your animal. That always stuck with me. I would never let one of my animals suffer or eat something terrible for them or not exercise, not get enough sleep, be all stressed out about something. No, I am always thinking about what is best for them, what condition they are in, what I can do to make them more comfortable, or allow them to live longer and happier. Why don’t I do this for myself? I put myself last. I treat my vehicle better than my own body sometimes. I put work before health, family before health, money before health.

When I am with Wylie on the trail I remember that I am an animal too, my body is an animal and needs to be cared for and looked after by me just like one of my animals. When I wake up in the morning and my cat is rubbing against me and meowing because she wants that delicious, high quality, tuna wet food. I am reminded, first thing, that the nutrients I feed my animals, my own body included, is vital and vitally important to all of our well-being and longevity.

This is the connection that I see between health and owning a pet. It is the daily things, the feedings, the walks, the cuddles, the companionship, the love, that equals a healthier lifestyle. Having pets promotes a healthy lifestyle. It enriches our lives in ways we do not always think about and may not even be aware of. They make our lives more meaningful and purposeful. Ultimately, meaning and purpose have a lot to do with long term health and satisfaction.

Maintaining Your Pet’s Health

Taking on the responsibility of caring for a pet is a big deal. I would not encourage anyone to become a pet owner if you are not financially, emotionally, or logistically equipped to handle caring for another being. That being said there are a lot of online tools and resources you may want to look into if you are a pet owner already or thinking about becoming one.

Part of pet ownership is dealing with veterinarians and veterinary bills. With Pet Insurance, you can have some peace of mind that when a big vet bill is sprung on you. The insurance will take care of most of that for you. For some people, these few little hacks can simplify and streamline the daily responsibilities of pet ownership.

About Our Guest Writer

Nick Nester, Content Writer.  Nick studied Creative Writing and Philosophy at various schools in California as well as Yoga and Herbal medicine.  He is an avid waterman, surfer, hiker and musician.  He has worked as an Ocean Lifeguard for over 10 years on the California coast while exploring writing, music and developing a health-centered lifestyle.

Nick Nester, Content Writer


Health Benefits Of Pet Ownership FAQs

Is an Australian Cattle dog a good pet for hiking?

Australian cattle dogs are one of the best breeds for hiking or backpacking because of their heartiness and endurance. Their double coat shields them from heat and cold.

What is the average cost of a veterinary visit?

The average vet check-up in the U.S. is around $45-$60 and includes a complete examination of your pet's health.

How much does a dog cost to own per year?

The average cost of owning a dog is estimated to be around $1000 per year by the ASPCA, which includes dog food, vet care, and grooming.

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