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Are Pets Good for Your Health?

Sadie Holloway, a proud cat parent, is a strong advocate for adopting pets from animal shelters and rescue organizations.

Having both cats and dogs can be beneficial to your mental health.

Having both cats and dogs can be beneficial to your mental health.

If you are a proud pet owner, it's nice to know that scientists believe that your furry friends are good for your health. In fact, there is even a special word to describe the positive health benefits that humans get from having furry pet friends. The word is zooeyia—created from a combination of Greek words for animals and health—and it refers to all the health benefits animals bestow on their owners.

Health Benefits of Owning Pets

Scientists believe that pets can help humans live longer, lose weight, stop smoking, lower blood pressure, and recover from illnesses faster. And then there are the myriad ways that pets make us feel better mentally, spiritually, and emotionally.

Here are some of the top health benefits of having pets in your life.

  • Pets keep their humans physically active. We keep hearing the message over and over again that exercise is one of the best ways to prevent disease. Moving regularly and staying active comes naturally to dog owners who take their pooch’s health and wellness seriously. Studies in Australia, Japan, and Canada have shown that people who have dogs are 57 to 77 percent more likely to get sufficient physical activity than people who don’t have dogs.
  • Thanks to the added physical activity that comes with ensuring their dogs get enough daily exercise, people who walked their dogs had a lower body mass and were less likely to report having high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and depression.
  • Dogs can help students learn more in the classroom. Dogs introduced into school and educational environments help to reduce students’ stress. Canines in the classroom can help promote better concentration, attention, and motivation too!
  • Pets teach kids empathy. Having animals in the home can provide a source of comfort, security, and companionship for children. Children who are taught how to properly care for and interact with their pets can develop their sense of empathy. I imagine that it also promotes greater social consciousness too as a child's love for their pet can lead to a greater concern for animal welfare and environmental issues.
  • Pets are good for the elderly. Regular contact with animals through a visiting program or having pets in the home helps to reduce loneliness and isolation in seniors. Older folks who walk their dogs also maintain greater mobility and independence living in their own homes.
  • Cats can help lower your stress level and that in turn is good for your heart. Petting a purring cat is very soothing and calming. In fact, one study found that cat owners followed over a 10-year period were 30 percent less likely to die of a heart attack or stroke than non-feline folks.

There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.

— Albert Schweitzer

  • Pets can help you sleep better. A recent study from the Mayo Clinic Center for Sleep Medicine found that 41 percent of the people studied reported that they slept better because of their pet.
  • Some dogs can detect illness in their human owners. Scientists have been doing research to explore the idea that domesticated dogs can smell cancer in the human body. Of course, more work needs to be done before pets can be considered a scientifically reliable diagnostic tool, but if owners know the signs to watch for show their pets are intuitively concerned their guardian's health, they may seek medical advice sooner and alert their doctors to issues before symptoms start to show.
  • Research indicates that pets can help improve the quality of life of cancer patients. Several studies of patients undergoing cancer treatment suggest that those who have positive interactions with animals report feelings of improved health, decreased depression, and greater social and psychological well-being, even when experiencing physical symptoms.
Pets can help their humans sleep better at night.

Pets can help their humans sleep better at night.

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Read More From Pethelpful

Spending some time cuddling with a sleepy puppy calm calm your nerves and soothe your soul.

Spending some time cuddling with a sleepy puppy calm calm your nerves and soothe your soul.

There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.

— Bernard Williams



This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2017 Sadie Holloway


Robert E Smith from Rochester, New York on February 27, 2017:

I think I had heard most of the points in your article at one time or another but I hadn't seen all of these points together like this. It is amazing how much animals contribute to our lives. I'm more a dog man than a cat man but it's been a long time since I had a pet. It is hard for me to lose them and, for me, it's just easier to not have a pet. I think my favorite animal is a bird. So cheerful sounding and cute acting. I enjoyed this article very much. Bob.

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