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The Health Benefits of Pets

Posted on 23rd November 2015 by Green Lane Farm Team

While there always seems to be a new health fad we are told to follow, what many people don’t realise is that they may already hold the secret to a healthy lifestyle. Studies have shown that there are a host of health benefits associated with owning a pet, so this article will serve to explain how man’s best friend can improve your mental health and fitness levels.

Physical health

1. Heart health and blood pressure

Research has shown that heart attack patients and those with serious abnormal heart rhythms who own dogs live longer than those without. Dog owners are also less likely to get heart disease as they need to walk more to exercise their precious pooch, causing their blood pressure to be lower than those without a dog. In fact, one study found that when people suffering from abnormally high blood pressure adopted dogs from a shelter, their blood pressure declined significantly within just five months.

2. Cholesterol levels

Previous studies have discovered that pet owners have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels than those without pets, meaning they are less likely to suffer from heart disease.

3. Exercise

Regular exercise is an effective way of staying healthy, so for pet owners there is no excuse not to remain active! Simply playing ball or throwing a Frisbee in the garden can make a difference, helping to keep health problems and trips to the doctor at bay.

4. Arthritis

While it’s common knowledge that exercising regularly is good for everyone, daily exercise can also be an effective form of pain relief for joint disorders such as arthritis. Walking and playing with a pet can help ease arthritis pain and stiffness while increasing strength and flexibility.

5. Elderly

Minor exercise with a pet, such as walking a dog, can help keep joints flexible and improve the health of the elderly, as evidence has shown that pet owners aged over 65 visit the doctors 30 percent less than those without pets.

Results from studies into the health benefits of pets have shown that the health and fitness levels of their owners is significantly better than those without pets. Not only that, but the companionship of owning a pet also enhances moods and helps with depression.

Mental health

Adopting a healthier lifestyle can help improve one’s mindset and ease the signs of:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • ADHD

1. Outlook

Exercising and feeding your pet will add a routine into your day, forcing you to get out of bed to look after your beloved pet, whatever mood you are in. The wonderful thing about a pet is that it never worries about what has happened in the past or what might happen in the future. This uplifting attitude can encourage people with depression to adopt a similar mindset.

2. Behaviour

Caring for a pet can provide comfort during difficult times and help ease any feelings of stress. The unconditional love from a dog can help those suffering from depression cope with the symptoms. Over time, animals have become accustomed to the way humans communicate and behave, giving them the ability to understand our:

  • Body language
  • Gestures
  • Words
  • Tone of voice

Therefore, your pet can immediately sense when you are feeling a bit low or sad and will try to improve your mood.

3. Comforter

Feelings of loneliness and isolation can trigger depression in many, and while there is no cure, the companionship of a pet can prove to be very therapeutic. Stroking, petting or cuddling an animal can provide great comfort for those suffering from depression, anxiety or stress.

To help those who have experienced serious trauma, gentle dogs can be specially trained to become therapy dogs. Following the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, therapy dogs were introduced as a way of comforting the students at the school. It proved successful as one little boy who was unable to talk about his experience with his parents, could talk openly to the dog.

4. Social life

Owning a pet can help build self-confidence and improve social skills. It is an excellent way of meeting new people as there is a real sense of community amongst pet owners, whether you are taking your dog for a walk or attending the local training class.

5. Research from studies

Playing with a pet can increase levels of serotonin and dopamine, both of which help calm and relax the mind. Studies have shown that not only do pet owners have better physical health and fitness levels, they are also less likely to suffer from depression.

6. Children

Not only can owning a cat or dog help those in their adult years, it can also teach children how to be responsible and compassionate. The presence of a beloved family pet at home can help relieve separation anxiety for children when their parents are not there. Not only that, the love and affection from a loyal dog can boost self-confidence and promote a positive self-image, as well as improve social skills around others.

With the correct behavioural training, dogs can also help calm hyperactive or overly aggressive children, or help those with ADHD.

Here at Green Lane Farm, we have over 50 years’ experience looking after pets in our clean, purpose-built boarding kennels and cattery facilities. Our dedicated team provide the highest standards of animal care and work hard to ensure all your pet’s needs are met so they are safe and secure in their home away from home. Your pet’s health and welfare is paramount to us, which is why we also have qualified vets on hand so you can enjoy the peace of mind that comes with being in the hands of experts. To learn more about any of our services, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team today.

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