It's no secret — people are obsessed with their pets. There have been countless TV shows, series and movies about it and just this summer, "The Secret Life of Pets" debuted in theaters and racked up $103.2 million at the box office opening weekend. The bottom line? We love our animals. But what's better? They love us right back!
Here are five rewarding ways your pet is contributing to your health:
1. Mood Booster
Have you ever noticed that the simple action of petting your pooch instantly calms nerves and relieves feelings of anxiousness? It's not all in your head. Cortisol, often referred to as the stress hormone, is lowered after just minutes in the presence of an animal. A study conducted by MindLab International found that 55 percent of people were more relaxed after spending time with their pets.
2. Social Skills
Walking (or running) with your dog around the neighborhood is not only a great physical workout for both of you, it's a great mental activity. Your dog's need to be exercised forces you to get out of the house and increases your chance of social interaction. The bonus? Your four-legged friend's innate sense of curiosity and general friendliness can also be a great ice breaker whether you're at the dog park or strolling around the block!
3. Happy Heart
For a reason that cannot be directly pinpointed, studies show that pet owners have lower blood pressure than those who don't have animals in the home. Perhaps it's because we go on more walks or are less stressed (see #1), but healthier hearts lead to longer lives! Thanks, guys!
4. A Positive Purpose
Your pet is always happy to see you, right? Right. There is no denying the sense of love and adoration when you open your front door and your pet is there to greet you with a happy face or tail wag. Caring for a pet provides a sense of purpose and usefulness, which in turn provides validation to your everyday. Whether you realize it or not, this sense of value and purpose is a huge self-worth booster.
5. Allergy Aid
Children who grow up in a home with pets are far less likely to have respiratory issues (allergies, colds, asthma), says a study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Exposure to animal dander early in life builds the immune system's tolerance and reduces allergy development before age ten.