Most people, myself included, are unable to resist the adorable allure that puppies and kittens bring. However, did you know that our furry friends may help us improve our health? We've all heard stories of cats and dogs saving their owners' lives from fires and dogs being able to detect cancer. Scientists have studied how our fur babies improve our well-being, and this is what they found.
1. More Exercise
Dogs require exercise, whether their owners take them out for walks or throw tennis balls for them. Therefore, it's no surprise that dog owners are more active than people who don't own them. Many people adopt a dog to get more exercise, and if people commit to helping a dog stay active, they do the same for themselves.
2. Reduced Stress
There's a reason that many universities invite students to play with therapy dogs during finals week. Many studies have shown that dogs and cats reduced cortisol, a hormone released when a person is stressed. The exception to this find is short-haired black cats, which unfortunately is a result of western superstition surrounding black cats.
3. Lower Blood Pressure
Having a cat or dog can help with hypertension due to their ability to reduce blood pressure spikes. For many, a cuddly dog or purring cat triggers calming hormones in people, which correlates with reduced stress. In one study of cardiac patients, the presence of a dog reduced their blood pressure by an astounding 10 percent.
4. Reduced Risk of Heart Attacks
Cat owners, I have some good news! Scientists have found that owning a cat reduces heart attack risk by an amazing 40 percent. It isn't known why this is the case, but many theorize that a cat has calming effects that correlate with the reduction of blood pressure and stress. While it's possible that dogs have the same benefit, this study was only done on cat owners.
5. Depression Relief
Most people know that a fluffball on their body can instantly improve one's mood, but people struggling with depression, such as myself, can also benefit from these effects. NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) recognizes animal-based therapy as an effective treatment of depression, and they especially reduce isolation for their owners.
6. Allergy Prevention
Children raised around pets are at a reduced risk of cat or dog allergies because their immune systems become accustomed to the presence of chemicals that cause allergies. The lowest risk individuals had more than one pet in their homes, but there is no clear benefit to meeting or exceeding a certain number.
7. Blood Sugar Detection
Diabetic patients know that a sudden drop in blood sugar can become deadly. While most diabetics have their blood sugar under control, they would also benefit from having a dog. Some dogs are specifically trained to detect changes in blood sugar through their keen sense of smell. If they smell a change in blood sugar, they can alert their owners before it becomes dangerous.
8. Stroke Risk Reduction
Not only do cats reduce heart attack risk, but they can also decrease the chance of a stroke by over 30 percent. Research suggests that cats reduce stress, which contributes to their heart attack reduction, but it is also possible that cat lovers aren't as stressed as other people. It is possible that dogs have this benefit too, but this is only known in cat owners.