Can Pets Keep You Healthy?

Blog SQ 10-23-14Pet owners have long known a simple truth – pets provide a calming and soothing experience that can deliver a wide spectrum of real health benefits.

A day in the life of a pet owner seems normal, but the pet-specific activities that owners experience daily provide a sense of comfort and friendship that others don’t see. These activities, among many others, are great for the average pet owner and can collectively contribute to a greater sense of health and well-being. The following are some of the key health benefits that pet owners enjoy:

  • Simple exercise: Yes, dogs really do need to be walked. And this simple but frequent movement keeps both the pet and the pet owner in better shape. Walking your dog around the block each day is great, but don’t neglect the health and wellness benefits of taking your dog for a stroll in nature. Local parks, nature trails, and wilderness areas offer a variety of terrain options and the sights and sounds of the great outdoors offer a real sensory experience for both you and your pet.
  • Disease management: The proliferation of service and therapy dogs these days points to the real benefits of owning a dog or cat – namely, that they can literally detect health episodes before they happen or during the early stages of an onset event. Dogs can be specially trained to help owners handle epileptic seizures, and some are even able to detect an individual’s blood sugar levels when they drop due to a glucose imbalance. For this reason alone, those with debilitating illnesses can really benefit from the companionship of a specially trained pet.
  • Less stress and anxiety: Pet owners know that the immediate benefits of petting a dog or cat are real. Formal research has shown that pet owners actually have statistically lower resting heart rates than non-pet owners. The actual reasons aren’t truly known, but there is significant evidence that caring for a pet removes the immediate focus on oneself and blocks out the stresses of life for some time. If nothing else, petting a dog or cat and having the pet reciprocate feelings of adoration tend to make anyone feel good.
  • Stronger immunity: It has been proven that those who grow up with animals in the house, or who have lived on a farm during their childhood, are more resistant to illness and generally have a stronger immune system. Fewer instances of allergies and asthma are also found among those who have grown up with pets, so parents may actually be doing their kids a favor when they bring home that new puppy or kitten as a surprise gift.
  • Better heart health: Research has shown that those who have never owned a cat are 40% more likely to succumb to a heart-related illness or death. Studies have also shown that dog owners who suffer a heart attack are far more likely to have recovered fully one year after the event than non-dog owners.

Owning a pet can have a significant and lasting impact to your health – a positive one, in most cases! While simply petting a cat or taking a dog for a walk won’t fix what ails you, there is significant research that shows that owning a pet can truly improve the quality of your life. Pet ownership can provide life insurance policyholders even more comfort by giving them a way to manage their mental and physical health long term. From better life satisfaction to lower stress and anxiety levels, to healthier bones and muscles from frequent dog walks, it really does pay off having a pet in the home.

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