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The Healing Power of Pets: Surprising Health Benefits From Your Furry Family Members

“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” – Anatole France


Dogs are called “Man’s Best Friend” for a reason. Pets can give even more than just unconditional love in a family setting. They can truly become a vital part of your family, and your own personal health and well-being.


Playing and having fun with your furry friend increases your serotonin and dopamine levels, which results in a happier you.  Exercising with your pet is not only good for your physical health, but it can also calm and relax you, which leads to better mental health. According to the American Heart Association, people with dogs are 54% more likely to get the recommended amount of exercise than those without.


It has been proven that people who have a pet or pets are less likely to suffer from depression or anxiety. This is one of the reasons that emotional support animals have become so popular in this day in age. If you don’t feel like getting out of bed in the morning, it’s a guarantee your cat or dog will be right there waiting for you to feed them. They encourage you to get up, which is what those who struggle with mental health need sometimes.


You may even have a stronger immune system if you live with pets as a child. According to WebMD, if you grew up in a home with pets, you are less likely to have asthma or allergies as an adult.


Animals can also bring a sense of comfort and peace of mind in regard to safety. Barking dogs can very well deter that burglar who is about to make his way into your home at 3 a.m. Dogs are used by police for a reason. They make it their mission to protect their family and their home. Their loyalty whether out on a walk or while relaxing at home can ease your worries about your safety.


Your pet is always there when you need a laugh. Whether your cat is having the time of its life playing with a ball of yarn, or your dog is chasing a squirrel around the backyard, their playfulness is sure to put a smile on your face. Laughter is the best medicine, and your pet is sure to give you just the right dose.


If you ever feel lonely while your significant other or kids are out for the day, or even longer, a pet can cure your loneliness. As weird as it may seem to talk to your pet, they always listen. Their companionship is unmatched and unwavering.


Dogs are often adopted out to veterans returning home from deployment. They help their new pet parents learn how to trust again and give them a companion to help them readjust to their new lives. The lasting impact these animals have on the situation can be life changing. “At Walter Reed Army Medical Center, they’re using dogs to help soldiers dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder,” says Katy Nelson, DVM, associate emergency veterinarian at the VCA Alexandria Animal Hospital in Alexandria, Virginia. “They’re finding the guys who have a pet are able to re-enter society a little bit easier. They’re showing a decreased suicide rate, one of the biggest health threats [veterans] face. These guys who have a pet have someone they’re responsible for, someone who cares about them. And they don’t have to explain what they’ve been through.”


If you do have children, pets can have many benefits for them as well. Tea parties and other activities with their pup can lead them to have better social interactions with their peers. Dogs can help children with ADHD focus their attention. In a recent study, kids read to animals and in turn showed better social skills and more sharing, cooperation, and volunteering. They also had fewer behavioral problems. Children with autism who played with guinea pigs were also calmer in classroom situations.


Aside from helping children with health and social interaction, pets also teach kids responsibility. They learn how to care for and feed their pet. Developing a love for animals at a young age will teach them to respect the loving creatures for the rest of their lives.


In the end, pets are the light, love and companionship we all need. From a kitten to a Mastiff, all pets can bring you an exuberant amount of joy, health benefits, mental benefits, social benefits, and an eased mind. If you are looking to add a compassionate, loving, and loyal member to your family, don’t hesitate to adopt a pet. Not only will you be saving them, they will save you too.

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