Studies conducted during the past three decades show the effect pet ownership and companionship can have on the state of your health. Two-thirds of households in the United States own at least one pet, according to data from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
So how can this benefit your physical and mental health? Many pet owners firmly believe their recovery from illnesses like cancer, heart disease, depression and stroke was boosted by the constant devotion of their pet. Dogs can be trained as medical assistance animals for epilepsy patients and diabetics. These animals can detect risks and warn their owners before they suffer from seizures or hypoglycemic episodes.
One NIH-funded study evaluated 421 participants who had experienced heart attacks. Researchers found that dog owners were significantly more likely to survive the attack — no matter the severity. Another study found that couples who owned pets were less likely to have high blood pressure or increased heartbeats. They were also calmer in the face of stressful situations and responded more responsibly compared to those without pets.
Pets can be a welcome addition to any home, but make sure you have the time and patience to devote to your furry friend. The average lifespan of cats and dogs can range from 10 to 17 years, so make sure you’re ready for a permanent commitment. Health-wise, a pet could be the best investment you’ll ever make.