We all know our pets make us happy, but did you know they may also help us live longer?
It’s true. Researchers have a lot to say about how our four-legged friends affect our health and well-being.
If you’ve ever wondered if there’s more to your pet than meets the eye, keep reading. We have the scoop on our furry sidekicks right here.
Let’s dig in!
Do People with Pets Live Longer
Studies have shown that people with pets do, in fact, live longer than those without. Even people with houseplants to care for seem to have more years to enjoy. It may be that simply having something to take care of has an effect on longevity.
Pet ownership is linked to increased physical activity, improved cardiovascular health, and enhanced social connectedness. All of which are important for our overall well-being. But relationships with animals are beneficial for more immediate reasons. The value of companionship shouldn’t be overlooked.
The connections are mutually beneficial. We feed them and give them a warm place to live. They also appreciate how we keep them safe. In turn, they provide us with companionship. And as it turns out, they help keep us healthier for longer.
What Are the Health Benefits of Owning a Pet?
One of the best benefits of an animal companion is its ability to buffer stress.
Stress leads to so many physical and psychological issues. Because of its many adverse effects, animals’ ability to negate it may be their greatest superpower. It’s also likely why having pets helps many of us live longer.
The American Heart Association published a study showing that pet owners have lower heart rates, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. Other studies have shown that people with existing heart disease are less likely to die of a cardiac event if they have an animal companion.
Research also tells us that petting a dog for 18 minutes can stimulate our immune response, making us less susceptible to harmful germs.
Pro Tip: We love our furry friends, but these are the Biggest Downsides of Being a Doggy Parent.
Who Lives Longer Dog Owners or Cat Owners?
Some people are cat lovers, and others prefer dogs. While the two species may be at odds, these furry friends are united in helping their owners stay healthier.
The science seems pretty straightforward. Owning a pet offers many physical and mental benefits that can help you live longer. But which animal is more beneficial– cats or dogs?
Dogs can have a significant impact on our health. They can improve cases of anxiety and depression and even make us less susceptible to psychological distress in the first place.
Playing with your pup also boosts oxytocin– the “love hormone” that makes you feel warm and fuzzy.
The cardiovascular benefits are also evident. A Swedish study showed a 21% decrease in coronary-related death among dog owners. They’re also 31% less likely to die from a stroke or heart attack if they have one.
While researchers can’t prove that canine ownership actually causes better health outcomes, there’s an undeniable correlation between the two.
Just like dogs, cats have the power to alleviate stress and anxiety. Thsamery frequency of their purr is enough to lower our heart rates. That same frequency, 1.5 to 6 gigahertz, is even used in arthritic therapy. So, they may be especially beneficial for the elderly.
They also seem to improve our cardiovascular health. While they may not need daily walks, they tend to keep their owners more active than their petless peers.
Our feline friends may even be able to lower our risk of allergies. Exposure to kitties in the early years of life may help strengthen the immune system, allowing it to respond to allergens without overreacting.
And while they may be more reserved than dogs when it comes to displays of affection, they still reciprocate their owners’ acts of love. There may be something to pets loving you back that helps people live longer.
Will Any Pet Help You Live Longer?
It isn’t just dogs and cats that affect our longevity. Many different pets have been shown to help us live longer.
Studies have shown that seeing and hearing birds positively impacts our psychological well-being. People in areas with higher avian diversity are happier than those not exposed to them. In another study, older adults who were given tropical fish had elevated moods and lower blood pressure.
Even insects can impact our health. People have kept crickets and beetles in China and Japan for centuries. In Korea, six-legged pets are a multimillion-dollar industry.
Pro Tip: Before you leave your campsite for the day, make sure you know these 5 Reasons Not to Lock Your Dog in an RV Camper.
How to Stay Healthy Around Pets
While the benefits of pet ownership are undeniable, there’s an inherent risk when bringing another species into the home. Very young children, pregnant women, and those with weakened immune systems may be more susceptible to animal-borne diseases.
Always be sure to keep your pets up to date on their vaccinations. This is for their health as well as yours. If you get a cut or scratch from your friend, clean it immediately with soap and water and watch it for signs of infection.
Be sure to wash your hands after playing. Avoid snuggling and kissing rodents, reptiles, amphibians, and poultry, as they’re more likely to carry harmful bacteria. You should also keep animals and their supplies away from areas you prepare food and always properly dispose of waste.
Will Owning a Pet Help You Live Longer?
Science is hard to argue with. People with pets do live longer than those without. While the research shows a clear link between longevity and pet ownership, we can’t definitively state that it’s because they have pets, only that it’s there.
But the correlation is good enough for us! If you have a pet at home, you might want to give them an extra treat to thank them for keeping you healthy.
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