Owning a pet can bring on more responsibility, but the benefits for one’s overall health and wellness can be a game changer! Coming home from a busy day at work and getting greeted by a dog wagging its tail is like experiencing unconditional love everyday. When dogs and cats interact with humans the body releases a hormone called oxytocin– also known as the “cuddle hormone.” And the real benefit of owning a pet is that you just might live longer than people who do not own a pet. Drawbacks are that you will also have to clean animal hair off your clothes and your house more regularly. A study published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, suggest that dog ownership was linked to a 21% reduction in the risk of death – over the 12-year study period for people with heart disease. Other studies also support the link of pet ownership to good health. Owning a dog can reduce blood pressure and improves one’s cholesterol levels-which may help improve cardiovascular (heart) health. One reason for this outcome is that owning a pet increases one’s physical activity. Regardless of the weather and other excuses for staying inactive, getting out regularly to walk the dog is simply good for your health. For those suffering from depression, walking the dog is a good way to socialize and meet with other people in your neighborhood.
For those who have never owned or fear owning a pet, there are many breeds of cats and dogs that may fit your lifestyle and personality. Talk with a pet expert, your primary care provider or a veterinarian before you decide on adopting a pet. Do not let the cost of pet ownership be a barrier to adopting a pet. Local organizations like the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), the state and county have low cost vet clinic programs to help. When growing up, my father would take our dog ‘Mageddo’ and cat ‘Fuzzy’ to the fire station every year for their check-up and shots. Animal Health Center clinics provide low cost vet care that can spay/neuter your pet, administer shots (vaccinations) and offer animal check-up wellness packages. That being said, pet food can be expensive too but buying in bulk is a good way to keep costs down. Overall, pets can improve your overall quality of life.
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