Research has shown that there are definite health benefits to owning a pet.
It is my personal opinion that when they are old enough, children should become pet parents. It doesn’t matter if it’s a goldfish, pair of hamsters, or rescue dog that just needs a good home, caring for and interacting with a pet gives children valuable life skills such as responsibility, organization, and compassion.
Pets are not just for children however. Regardless of whether you are a mother of four, or a single gal making things happen on your own, pets can add a sense of companionship, affection, and stress relief that you would be hard pressed to find anywhere else.
According to a survey by Lifetime Networks, seven out of ten women between the ages of 18 and 49 are pet parents, and 59% said they would risk their lives for their pets. Other than the obvious emotional benefits, becoming a pet parent can also affect your health in the following ways:
Lower risk of heart disease. Perhaps the most significant reason to own a pet is that it can decrease blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and feelings of loneliness, which are all contributing factors to heart disease. Pet parents are also more likely to be active, and the emotional connection formed can stave off depression, especially in elderly women.
Stress Relief. Emotional support is important to our overall mental health, and nobody provides better emotional support than a pet (any married women out there can vouch for this, har, har). A review of several studies in 2012 found that spending a few minutes alone with a dog can lower your cortisol levels (cortisol being the hormone released when we are stressed) and having a pet nearby during stressful situations can also lower your blood pressure.
Longevity. Since owning a pet has been proven to decrease your risk of heart disease and lower your levels of stress, research actually indicates that it can lead to a longer life. A study by Berkeley Wellness found that people who own pets have lower mortality rates that those who are petless because of all the combined health benefits.
So if you are a mom who has been trying to find reasons against getting your kids a family pet, I am sorry to burst your bubble, but it might actually help the overall health of your family.
Regardless of your situation, the science says that owning a pet is a healthy choice, so unless you are allergic, there is really no reason to not invite a pet into your home.