The Perks of Pets

The authors furry friend.


The author’s furry friend.

Emily Coggins, Staff Writer

Who doesn’t love being greeted by that soft muzzle, wagging tail, or fluffy fur after a long day? I know that I can’t help smiling when I am greeted by one of my beloved furry friends. In fact, studies show that those with pets report higher levels of happiness as well as quicker recoveries from stressful situations. 

A study by the National Institutes of Health reported that frequent interaction with a pet can result in a lessening of stress responses. There are numerous other reasons why all kinds of pets can increase your happiness and quality of life. For example, according to EquiMed, horses can detect human emotion, which results in strong bonds between horse and human as well as increased empathy. Additionally, riding and taking care of horses can cause an increased release of serotonin and endorphins as well as reduce stress levels. Horses are not the only animals that can have these effects on humans. Both dogs and cats contribute to their owners’ cheerful mood. For instance, the motion of stroking a dog or cat can lower your blood pressure and increase calmness

In addition to improving mood, having pets can have positive effects on the health of their owners. Riding horses is known to burn up to 400 calories in one ride, lower cholesterol and triglycerides, and increase vitamin D intake due to exposure to the outdoors. Dogs and cats also increase how much their owners exercise because the owners play with their pets and take them on long walks or to the park, which is a good way to exercise and get outside into the fresh air. An NIH study showed that those who walked their dogs regularly had more stamina and increased mobility. Also, Humana notes that having a dog or cat lowers the risk of dying of a heart attack due to the fact that pet ownership lowers anxiety, stress, and depression. 

Finally, pets can lead their owners to new friendships due to their shared interest in their pets, which also increases happiness and well-being. While these are just a few of the ways that pets can have these many wonderful effects, there are a multitude of other animals that can increase their owners’ quality of life,  including hamsters, mice, and fish. So, the next time you are greeted by your pet, give them an extra treat, ear scratch, or head pat to remind them how special they are.