The pandemic era was the blooming of America’s love affair with pets. In the first year of the pandemic, 1 in 5 Americans acquired a new pet. Pet ownership was driven by a desire to have some kind of companionship and solace during the hard months of the lockdown. Researchers are finding that the health benefits of pet ownership are no myth. Here’s why pets are healthy for you.
Pet Ownership Provides Emotional Support
Pet ownership, whether you own a dog or a rabbit, or something else, has a tremendous impact on emotional well being. During the first year of the pandemic, as people across the world faced months of lockdown and death tolls and hospitalizations rose, many people reported feelings of stress, anxiety and depression. Indeed, the World Health organization (WHO) found that the prevalence of anxiety and depression rose by some 25% during the pandemic.
Those pet owners found that pets provided them with much-needed emotional support. One reason is that taking care of a pet forces a person to step outside themselves and think about the pet, easing stress, anxiety and depression. People are just happier around pets. Pets are blessed with a lack of any real long-term memory of the kind humans have. So normally, pets are able to shake off negative events. A pet could be in pain one moment and chasing a squirrel the next. That sense of being unburdened is infectious.
One driver of stress, anxiety and depression in the pandemic was the limitations placed on all of us not to touch each other. We are a tactile species and touch is important to our well being. Pets helped with that. Human beings derive joy from stroking, playing with and hugging pets. Well, unless it’s a bat, then you really want to get a bat removal service on the job.
Pet Ownership Reduces Cardiovascular Risk
Playing with pets releases serotonin and dopamine, which, together, result in calmer and happier people. In fact, pet owners have a lower level of cardiovascular risk than non-pet owners.
A study of 4 million people in the United States, Canadam Scandinavia, Australia and New Zealand, found that dog ownership was correlated with a 24% fall in the chances of dying from cardiovascular disease. People who had already suffered from some kind of cardiovascular disease were 31% less likely to die from it.
Pets Are Good Exercise Buddies
Pet ownership comes with responsibilities. For owners of dogs and other pets that need to exercise in wide spaces, pets force their owners to go out and walk their dog. That’s not just good for cardiovascular health, it’s good for overall health.
Pets Help Create a Sense of Balance
Pets need regularity in their lives. If you feed your pet at 8 o’clock every morning, it will come to expect that you will feed it at 8 o’clock. That need for regularity creates a sense of stability not just for them, but for you to. Again, it’s all about taking yourself out of your problems. Knowing that you have a pet to feed, or walk, reduces anxiety in your life by adding some certainty in an otherwise uncertain world.