How Owning a Pet Can Benefit Your Health

Here at PAWS NY, we honor the emotional, physical health, and social benefits of the human-animal bond, and we work so that a lack of ability never threatens to separate humans from their animal companions.

For instance, check out some research and data below that backs up this important human-animal bond that is so physically and psychologically valuable to our clients.

Mental Health Benefits to Owning a Pet

Dogs & Exercise

The most obvious benefit to owning a pet, especially a dog, is that you get more physical exercise while walking and playing with your pup. 

In 2011, researchers from Michigan State University reported that among dog owners who took their pets for regular walks, nearly 50% exercised an average of 30 minutes a day at least five days a week, which is considered moderate or vigorous exercise. By comparison, only about a third of those without dogs got that much regular exercise.

Pets & Mental Health

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become evident how much cats, dogs, and other pets can brighten our moods and keep us level and steady throughout the toughest times.

Several studies back up this anecdotal evidence, including a study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, which revealed that seniors who owned dogs were “buffered from the impact of stressful life events on physician utilization.” A 2013 article in Western Journal of Nursing Research reported that for older adults (age 55-84), a high attachment to a pet has been associated with lower levels of loneliness.

Additionally, the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) recently found that 74% of pet owners reported mental health improvements from pet ownership. HABRI also highlighted the top 5 mental health benefits of having a pet, including alleviating stress, reducing loneliness, and fighting depression.

Pets & Heart Health

In the Journal of Vascular and Interventional Neurology, researchers noticed a link between cat ownership and a decreased risk of dying from heart attack or stroke, calling cat ownership a “novel strategy for reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases in high-risk individuals.” When individuals are stressed, just the sound of a cat’s purr can calm nerves and lower blood pressure.

In addition, a study released in Psychosomatic Medicine found that pet ownership of any kind has been associated with lower blood pressure, lower heart rate, and faster recovery during mental stress. In 2013, the American Heart Association (AHA) issued a similar scientific statement suggesting that pet ownership (particularly dogs) may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Boosting Immunity

Even the younger individuals see health benefits from spending time with pets and animals. A team of researchers from the Department of Psychology at Wilkes University found that when college students spent only 18 minutes with a dog, the immunoglobulin A (IgA) levels in their saliva increased, which is a sign of strong immune function.

In conclusion, the animal-human bond is one that is of utmost importance, and we’re proud to help vulnerable New Yorkers stay with their pets and keep this bond so strong.