You already know that owning a pet brings great joy to you and your family, but did you know that pet ownership actually carries health benefits? If you own a pet, you may already be experiencing some of these common pet health benefits. If you don’t own one, then these are excellent reasons to consider getting one!

Improved Allergies for Children

Allergies and pets may seem like they don’t mix well, but actually research has found that owning pets can help lower the risk of allergies and asthma for children in your home. A pediatrician published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found that children who grow up with pets in the home or who live on a farm and help with farm animals have a lower risk of asthma and allergies than children who were not regularly in contact with animals. Owning a pet is not going to make your adult allergies better, but one of the clear pet health benefits for children is a lowered risk for developing animal allergies later in life.

Fewer Problems with Weight

Do you need to lose a few pounds? Getting a pet might help. When you own a pet, that pet relies on you for exercise. Taking the dog for a walk or getting down on the floor to play with the kitten is exercise for both you and for your pet. This exercise benefits your waistline and helps you lose or keep off weight.

Lowered Stress Levels

People who own pets have lower stress levels than those who do not. In 2002, the State University of New York at Buffalo performed a study on this phenomenon. The researchers found that having a pet nearby when facing a major stress, such as a stay in the hospital, lowered stress levels more than the presence of a spouse or close friend.

Better Heart Health

When you walk into the kitchen to find that your dog has thrown the trash around the room again, you might not find yourself thinking that pets are good for your heart as you feel your blood pressure rising. Yet, pets have been shown to reduce heart disease risks in numerous studies.

For example, research has shown that people who suffer from a heart attack will live longer afterward if they have a pet at home. Also, men who own pets are less likely to develop risk factors for heart disease, such as high cholesterol levels or triglyceride levels. Lowered stress, which is one of the main pet health benefits, also lowers blood pressure. All of this adds up to a healthier heart and overall cardiovascular system.

Reduction of Pain

While researchers have not yet found a medical reason for this phenomenon, they have found that spending time with a pet can help lower pain levels. Patients who suffer from chronic pain problems report reduced pain after spending time with pets. Pet therapy is effective at reducing both pain and anxiety for post-operative patients, and patients who participate in pet therapy typically request less pain medication than those who do not. Arthritis sufferers often report lower levels of pain if they own a pet compared to patients who did not own pets.

Improved Mood

When you have less pain, less anxiety and less stress, your mood is automatically boosted. People who own pets have more joy in their lives from their animals, and this translates into a better overall mood. For those experiencing stress or trauma, that mood boost is even more significant, because it makes handling their problems just a little easier.

Social Benefits

Heart disease, anxiety problems and chronic pain can all be helped through pet ownership, yet people also experience benefits socially when they own a pet. When you take your pet on a walk, people often will stop and talk with you.

Pet owners are more socially engaged than those who do not have pets because they are in the community interacting with their neighbors. They also spend time going to the dog park, the groomer, the pet store and the vet, giving them opportunities to meet people who have a similar interest in pets, pet health and companion animals.

Whether you enjoy an improved social life or better cardiovascular health and a shrinking waistline, owning a pet is good for you! Why not reward your pet for the health benefits he provides with an extra walk today?