Thursday Health Thoughts: Benefits of Pet Ownership

March 10, 2016

When I was in college my university hosted a special speaker who worked in a hospital as a therapist for those with chronic and terminal illnesses. Her secret of bringing joy to patients whose days were filled with deep suffering and little happiness? Pets. Animals whose presence would light up the room and illicit laughter. In recent months I am reminded of her thoughts on the benefits pets bring to our lives. I wasn't aware until I read about it that there are actually documented cases of using pets for therapy as early as the 9th century in Europe and the United States started using pets as therapy for service men and women during World War II.

What kinds of pets are used in pet therapy? Dogs and cats are very common, horses on ranches have been used, and one article shared that a nursing home found benefits to having aquariums in common rooms.

So what are some health benefits of owning a pet?

1. Pets provide laughter. 
I 've mentioned before important laughter is. Scamper constantly has me laughing with his antics (especially with his love of scrapbook paper *smiles*)!

2. Pets encourage you to "get moving". 
When you are not feeling well the last thing that you want to do is get up and exercise. While there are times where extreme workouts aren't feasible, getting out and walking your pet can help your circulation and is good for your health. {If you are not able to "move" as much as you would like right now don't discount the other benefits of a pet. Instead focus on finding an animal that is adaptable to your needs.}

3. Pets can lower blood pressure.

There have been studies done that say that being with animals can lower blood pressure. Scientists aren't sure why but this is a great health benefit! {Scamper obviously has low blood pressure! hahahaha}

4. Pets Help Lower Anxiety
Researchers found that spending 15 minutes with a pet can lower your anxiety. In addition to anxiety being lowered owning a pet can lower stress levels. Dr. Sandra Barker who is a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University found that animals also lower levels of cortisol.

5. Pets remind you that you are not alone. 
Sometimes having a chronic illness can feel extremely isolating. Having a pet reminds you that you are not alone and gives you something to look after and interact with. A Chicago Tribune article discussed the many social benefits of those who own pets.
I can't reiterate enough how important it is to choose a pet that fits with your needs. I am definitely a dog person and had only ever planned on getting dogs. But then real life happened and the truth was that it wasn't fair to the dog and it didn't fit my lifestyle to own a dog and then Scamper came into the picture and I immediately fell in love. I am not a cat lady *smiles* and don't plan on getting any additional cats, and plan to add dogs into my family in the future, but Scamper has fit perfectly in my life for this season. I share all of that to say: make sure to pick an animal that fits into your life and doesn't cause you any additional stress!

Do you own a pet? What benefits have you found with owning a pet?

{Disclaimer: This post was originally posted in 2013 but has remained one of my most read posts and I wanted to take the time to update it for this year! The information included on this site is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her health care provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. Reading the information on this website does not create a physician-patient relationship.}


  1. I have a cat and I find that my anxiety is lower when I'm with her. Too bad we can't have pets in the dorms... I could use her now more than ever!

  2. This was very interesting! When I was in college, they used to bring in puppies to play with during finals week.

  3. I absolutely believe that Charley is some of the best medicine in my arsenal! He's been known to lick tears, and has an uncanny sense of whether I need to play or snuggle. :-)

  4. Abundant Life Blog Hop is up and running! Don't forget to come and link up!

  5. I do think animals can be very beneficial to people! I am allergic to not me, but I see the purpose for others. :)

    1. Hi Angela! :) Thank you so much for commenting! :)
      I have heard from several people who mentioned allergies to pets. :( So sorry to hear that!! The only thing that I have suggested to the others that mentioned this is the idea of the fish and acquariam that I mentioned in the post....