Pets are good for our health
By: Dr. Jack Stephens
US Pet Insurance Founder
President and Founder
Pets Best Insurance
It’s that time of the year again– the month that we all decide we’re going to be healthier, more fit and turn our lives around! Perhaps your resolution will be to lose weight, get your blood pressure in check, or sign up your furry friend for a pet insurance policy. But doctor visits and medications aside, did you know there is a more simple way to get your health in order that involves your pet?
Think of how much you look forward to interacting with your pet or how fast you hurry home to play with them at the end of the day. Think of all the things you do for them that you might not do or even allow from your spouse! It may be ok for your dog to “hog” the bed– but not your significant other!
The reason we have such affection for our pets is biological. Interacting with our pets releases hormones that make you feel good, increases neurotransmitters, reduces your blood pressure and reduces stress hormones– all of which have positive biological impacts to us. Pets not only play important roles in our lives, but they make us feel better too.
Overall, pet owners tend to be less lonely, have higher self-esteem and are more social than non pet owners. Studies have shown that pet owners recover from illnesses faster and are discharged from hospitals sooner than non pet owners.
Studies have also shown that pet-owning patients experience less pain than those who don’t own pets. Additionally, people with pets end up getting more exercise, likely because they incorporate their dog into their exercise program.
I have personally recommended pets to people who were on anti-depressants due to life changes. Shortly after obtaining a pet, many of the pet owners determined they no longer had a need for their prescription medications. Though I advise they talk with their doctor before making any such change, it’s interesting to think that interacting with pets can help people manage their health.
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These were people who had either recently lost a long-time spouse or had anxiety about an upcoming surgery. Even something as non interactive as fish tanks in senior care facilities, especially Alzheimer units, have been shown to greatly reduce anxiety. Aquariums have also been shown to improved patients’ eating habits and help them maintain their weight, which tends to be an issue for those afflicted with Alzheimers. Staff have even reported less “incidents” by patients when a pets are present in the facility.
Doctors are increasingly harnessing the power of pets to make a positive difference. They now understand that pets keep people happy and healthy and provide positive biological benefits– something us pet owners have known all along. For more information about how pets can benefit you and how you can help keep them healthy in return, visit Pets Best Insurance.