Skip navigation

Paws for Well-Being: Health Benefits of Having a Pet

Share article on Facebook Share article on Pinterest Share article on Twitter (opens new window)
A black and white Border Collie and a woman sit on the grass

Did you know that pet parents visit the doctor less often than people without pets? Our cats and dogs are good for a laugh and make great cuddle buddies, but there's so much more to the human-animal bond. You may be wondering, how can pets improve your life? Do pets make us better people?

Health Benefits of Having a Pet

Research has shown that when we spend time with animals, there are health benefits from youth into old age. Let's learn about the importance of pets and how they can help improve physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

Physical

Research has found that people who have pets often have lower blood pressure and a reduced risk of heart disease. That’s because having a pet typically encourages a more active lifestyle. When you're moving around with your pet, you're not only getting exercise but also improving your physical well-being.

In addition, spending time with cats and dogs from an early age can help prevent allergies and boost your immune system. Research shows that prenatal and early childhood exposure can reduce sensitivity to allergens later in life.

Promoting an Active Lifestyle

Having a dog or cat encourages us to stay active. One survey suggests that people with dogs were 34% more likely to get at least 150 minutes of walking each week. Playing with your feline friend or walking your dog provides excellent physical exercise.

Pet-centric routines can help you stay fit, energized, and healthy. Plus, what better motivation is there to get moving than a pet that's eager to spend time with you?

Mental

There are many mental health benefits to having pets, especially when life gets stressful. They can have a major impact on our mental well-being by improving work performance, easing stress, reducing anxiety and strengthening memory.

Managing Stress, Anxiety, and Depression

How do pets help reduce stress and anxiety? Spending quality time with pets can lower cortisol levels. This reduction in stress hormones can lead to a greater sense of calm.

For individuals dealing with depression, they can provide much-needed comfort and support. The daily responsibilities of caring for a pet offer a sense of purpose and structure to our lives. Their unconditional love and companionship can also help individuals navigate challenging emotional times.

Supporting Creativity, Communication, and Problem-Solving

Reduced stress levels play a key role in our mental processes. The calming presence of a cat or dog can contribute to a less stressful environment. This can mean improved problem-solving and decision-making abilities.

This also applies in the office, as some studies have found great benefits of bringing your dog to work. Enhanced work-life balance and improved relationships can lead to better collaboration among teammates.

Improving Memory and Cognitive Processes

Pet companionship can support healthy brain function. This may also mean slower cognitive decline as we age. But why?

Interacting with our furry friends provides valuable mental stimulation for us and them. Realize it or not, you're learning with them when they're learning new tricks and commands. This mental exercise helps people of all ages keep their abilities sharp. The emotional stability our furry friends provide can lead to clearer thinking, improved focus, and more straightforward decision-making.

Emotional

So, what are the emotional benefits of pets? They're more than friends; they're emotional support pillars. Their devotion provides stability and comfort in a world that can be overwhelming.

The human-animal bond is undeniable and unconditional. No matter what's going on, your pet stays loyal and devoted — and that feels amazing.

Companionship for Emotional Support

Pets are exceptional companions who offer a listening ear without judgment. Research shows that dogs understand words and emotions. They provide a safe space for sharing thoughts and feelings. This emotional connection can be comforting through stressful and lonely moments.

Encouraging Social Connections

Social interaction is so important, and this is another area where animals contribute to us feeling good. Having a four-legged friend can help us make new human friends and grow our support systems.

You'll often meet fellow pet parents when you take your dog for a walk or visit the local park. These moments are perfect opportunities to create community and belonging inspired by your shared interest in animals.

How to Get Healthy with Your Pet

We all want to lead happy, healthy lives, and we want the same for our pets. To help you and your companions stay in good health, here are some valuable tips to consider:

  • Keep up with checkups: Stay consistent with your health care like you would with your planning vet visits for your dog or cat.
  • Go for a stroll: Walking your dog ensures you both get the exercise and stimulation you need.
  • Make memories together: Turn off whatever screen you're looking at and take a break from the news. Pets are happy to be a positive distraction. The emotional connections made while spending time together are priceless, so make sure to carve out bonding time.
  • Take time for playtime: Playing keeps you and your pet active and entertained whether you’re playing fetch or chasing pointer lasers.

Life with pets can be a wonderful thing, and many will find the benefits of animal companions are too good to ignore. Whether you hope to improve your fitness, manage mental health, or find emotional support, pets can make a difference.

If you've already made a four-legged friend, maybe you'll appreciate them even more than before.

An ASPCA® Pet Health Insurance plan can help you with eligible costs for covered conditions like surgery expenses for accidents and help provide peace of mind that your pet can receive the care they need. Check out our online resources to learn more about your insurance options and get a free quote today. The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.

(opens new window)

RELATED ARTICLES

brown catahoula leopard dog with a striped teal collar on a walk

All About Catahoula Leopard Dogs

Catahoula Leopard Dogs are a beautiful breed that have an unmatched personality. Learn all you need to know about these dogs before adopting one of your own.

READ MORE >

Whats Toxoplasmosis in Dogs _ Cause Symptoms and Treatment _ ASPCA Pet Insurance _ tired French bulldog puppy on a white bed

What's Toxoplasmosis in Dogs?

Learn how to recognize toxoplasmosis in dogs.

READ MORE >

gray cat with yellow eyes stretching on a windowsill

Cat Spine Issues

Learn about the most common spinal issues in cats, how to recognize the signs, and what treatment options are available.

READ MORE >