We all know the benefits of owning a four legged friend: more exercise, companionship and lots of kisses. But did you know that owning a dog can also reduce your risk of disease and death, especially if you live alone? For pet owners, the risk of death is decreased by 33%. Cardiovascular-related death can also be decreased by 36% for dog owners.
You may ask, why are the statistics drastically higher for people living alone? Studies suggest it is because the person is not required to share the benefits of living with a pet with other household members. People who live alone often have higher risk of cardiovascular-related deaths, but if you live alone with your pet, your chance of a heart attack decreases by 11%.
So, how does a pet lower the risk of disease and death? Often, patients with pets increase their physical activity. Walks in the park mean burning calories and spending time in the fresh air, all of which help fight illness. According to Skipper McCormick, Nurse Practitioner at NARMC, “If you are taking the time to care for a pet, whether that is a cat, dog, chicken or even a fish, you will be more likely to take care of yourself. You can schedule vet appointments to coincide with your healthcare appointments. If you are choosing healthy food for your pet, you will be more likely to choose healthy food for yourself. When you are taking your pet out, you are getting fresh air and sunshine.”
More physical activity and increased immune system developments are just a few of the benefits for pet owners.
“Sometimes a warm sleeping dog or cat snuggled up beside you while you are resting helps ease aches and pains in joints,” says McCormick. “It most certainly relieves the stress and tension built up throughout the day.”
Pets can play valuable roles in our lives. If you are unable to care for a pet, ask a friend to bring their pet by and share the snuggles or consider volunteering at your local animal shelter. When you own a pet, the risk of disease and death drops tremendously, helping our furry friends live up to their name “Man’s Best Friend.”