Pet Prescription: Could a Pet be the Key to a Healthier You?

by Raven Sinéad

If you’ve ever come home after a long day to a wagging tail or fuzzy nuzzles, you know the feeling is indescribable. That’s because pet love hits differently—-so much so that it could paw-simply improve your overall well-being. Read on to see how pet ownership could be the key to a healthier you.

Reduced Depression & Loneliness

Pets have a natural ability to sense human emotions, offering affection and next-level support. Because of this, numerous animals have been used for therapy purposes to help those suffering from loneliness and depression. Pets don’t need words to know that you’ve got the blues, and they’ll bring you good vibes by responding with affection and offering companionship that can pull you out of the darkest mental abyss. 

The very presence of a pet can transform your space into a sanctuary where isolation is replaced with a sense of connection and belonging.  

Increased Physical Activity

One of the most noticeable benefits of owning a pet is the increased physical activity they encourage (so you’ll always have a workout buddy).

Dogs, for example, require daily walks and rarely ever turn down a game of fetch, and cats are sure to lure you into some active, quality playtime.

We know that regular exercise helps maintain a healthy weight, prevents chronic diseases, and improves cardiovascular health—so take Bruno to the park already.

Healthy Heart Maintenance 

Speaking of cardio, pet ownership has been linked to reducing blood pressure and lowering heart rate, enhancing overall heart health, and increasing lifespan.

Pet responsibilities can be especially beneficial for seniors, giving them a reason to stay active and engaged. (I personally look forward to aging and becoming a cat lady.) 

Contrary to popular belief, growing up with pets could actually reduce the risk of allergies (crazy, right?). Studies have shown that children raised with pets are less likely to suffer from food allergies, eczema, and asthma since exposure to pet dander and outdoor allergens helps the body build tolerance and immunity.

Caring for a pet also helps children develop social skills and empathy and instills a sense of duty as they learn to feed, groom, and look after their furry friends (which leads us to our next pet benefit). 

Sense of Purpose

There’s a certain sense of fulfillment that comes with being responsible for another living being. When you open your home (and heart) to a pet, you take on the roles of caregiver and protector, reminding you each day that you serve a purpose in the life of your beloved companion. This provides order and a profound sense of meaning, especially if you’re struggling with feelings of aimlessness or uncertainty. Pets give us that unspoken validation—and it feels good. 

Stress & Anxiety Reduction

You could probably guess from the benefits previously mentioned that pets play a MAJOR role in reducing stress and anxiety. The simple act of stroking or cuddling with a pet can have a calming effect on your nervous system, lowering cortisol levels (stress hormones) and releasing endorphins, which act as natural mood boosters.

Don’t feel comfortable venting to others? You can spend quality time talking to your nonjudgmental pet (aka the coolest diary ever) to relieve stress and form a deep emotional bond with them. 

Many pet owners cherish the health benefits, unconditional love, and relief their pets offer from the demands of everyday life. You would be surprised how the routine of maintaining a pet’s well-being can help nurture your own.