The Fluffy Secret to Living a Longer, Healthier Life
If your a dog or a cat owner, you likely don’t need clinical research studies to prove what you already know: Your pet helps you feel better. Pets love us no matter what.
He shares love and joy (just think of that look on his face when you throw the ball or toy mouse). He can read your emotions and provide the support you need when life throws you a curve ball.
When you’ve looked deep into her eyes and feel a connection deeper than “where’s my dinner” and “hey lady, I need to go out”, you’re not imaging it. But now, there’s real science to support the idea that pets help us live happier, healthier lives.
Your Pet Helps Lower Your Stress and Helps Attain Your Goals
The Journal of Research in Personality researched how our emotions are affected by our pets, specifically, levels of self-confidence and how we handle stress. Pet owners in the study were split into 3 groups – (1) a group without their pets nearby, (2) a group with their pets beside them and (3) a group where owners were asked to just think about their pets during the study.
When they were each asked to write down their goals and assess how confident they were in reaching them, the groups with their pets on their mind or close by listed out more goals and were more self-assured that they would reach them.
They repeated the experiment, this time giving the pet owners a stressful mental test while assessing their blood pressure (a biological measure of stress). Once again, the pet owners with their furry friends nearby or in thought performed better than those without.
Other Ways Pets Support Us
- They help our children’s development: A 2017 systematic review study of 22 research experiments demonstrated a positive relationship between pets and their impact on children’s loneliness, self-esteem, cognitive benefits, intellectual development, social interactions, networks, play and behavior. How’s that for talking your spouse into a cute little kitten or pup?
- They motivate us to get more exercise: Research has proven that people get more exercise when they own pets. There’s also a correlation with reducing depression which is believed to be a part of additional exercise, but may also be related to pet ownership in and of itself. It’s also great for your pet to get out and be social.
- They improve our cardiovascular health (even beyond exercise): According to Harvard Medical School, research shows dog owners have lower cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure. These findings were true regardless of smoking status, diet or body mass index (BMI).
- They help us feel our purpose: As any therapy animal owner will attest, pets provide us with a companionship and love that help us feel connected with a sense of purpose.
- They satisfy our necessity for physical touch and love: It’s well known that humans need, no crave, physical touch and love. Afterall, who isn’t made instantly calm by snuggling with a sweet fur baby? We now know that the calm and content feelings actually go both ways! Pets need to feel our touch as much as we need to touch them. So keep calm and snuggle on!
- They keep us social: One stroll through the park is enough research you’ll need to prove that pets provide us with a common interest that helps us make new acquaintances and friends. Looking for a new friend…take Buffy out for an extra morning constitutional walk and see how many conversations you’ll strike up!
- Scientific American, Nov 2012. “Pets Help Us Achieve Goals and Reduce Stress”. doi:10.1038
- Harvard Health Publishing website. “Having a dog can help your heart – literally”. www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/having-a-dog-can-help-your-heart–literally
- Purewal R. Christley R, et al. Companion Animals and Child/Adolescent Development: A Systematic Review of the Evidence. 2017. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health. 14(3):234.
- Psychology Today. “Why Kids With Pets Are Better Off”. July 12, 2017. www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/animals-and-us/201707/why-kids-pets-are-better