HEALTH

Here are the health benefits of having pets

May 13, 2024, 2:00 PM

People present their pets during an animal fashion show....

Friends, families, and residents of Copper Creek Senior Living present their pets in a fashion show for seniors in honor of National Pet Day in South Jordan on Thursday April 18, 2024. Interacting with animals can benefit mental and physical health, according to experts. (Marielle Scott/Deseret News)

(Marielle Scott/Deseret News)

LOGAN, Utah — You’ve heard it said or maybe you’ve experienced the health benefits of pet ownership, now Utah State University’s Extension is showing exactly why health benefits are associated with having pets.

Caring for a pet can give you a sense of purpose and companionship which may prevent feelings of isolation and loneliness. Research has shown that interacting with a pet can provide people with feelings of joy, nurturing, and togetherness. 

Without a way to lessen isolation or loneliness, the Centers for Disease Control said a person’s mental and physical health can be negatively impacted. For example, feeling lonely can increase the risk of developing heart problems, addiction, and depression. 

Additionally, the sense of companionship someone gains by having a pet can help lower anxiety. Specifically, according to The Animal Health Foundation, being around animals can decrease cortisol.

Cortisol is the hormone that is released into our bloodstream during times of stress

Some pets also prompt their owners to get outside and stay active, per the USU Extension. Physical activity can reduce the risk of a number of diseases and improve your mental health. 

Specifically, the CDC said that regularly playing with your pet or taking them for a walk can lower blood pressure and cholesterol. 

Can I still reap the health benefits if I can’t have pets? 

According to the USU Extension, people without pets can still reap the health benefits that animals can offer to humans.

For example, visiting friends or family members with pets may offer interactions with animals. Signing up as a pet sitter or walker on websites such as Rover could also provide an opportunity to interact with animals. 

Additionally, volunteering at animal shelters or participating in equine therapy can help get humans into closer contact with animals. 

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Here are the health benefits of having pets