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The Health & Mood-Boosting Benefits of Pets

When you bring a new pet home, you're giving an animal a loving home, but did you know owning a pet can also bring powerful mood and health-boosting benefits for people? Our Pekin vets in Central Illinois share some of those in this post. 

How a Pet Can Be Good for Your Health 

While one person might prefer a fluffy puppy or kitty to take home, another might look for a scaly companion such as a lizard, snake or reptile. Pets of all types can bring health benefits to their owners.

If you have limited space or are allergic to other animals, a rabbit may be ideal for you. Birds can also encourage social interaction and help keep your mind active if you're an older adult. Even the act of watching fish swim in an aquarium can provide a calming effect and reduce stress. 

Here are just a few of the benefits that may come with pet ownership:

  • Interacting with animals has been shown to lower blood pressure and heart rate, and decrease levels of cortisol (a stress-related hormone).
  • Playing with a pet can elevate levels of dopamine and serotonin, which produce a calm, relaxed feeling. At our Pekin animal hospital, we often chat with owners while examining their pets and see the calming impact that feathered, furry or four-legged friends can have on their human counterparts. 
  • Having a pet at any age can instill and bolster a sense of purpose, self-esteem and value. This is especially important for children who are developing, people suffering from depression and seniors with diminished responsibilities.
  • Those who have had a heart attack may survive longer if they have a pet. 

Other Benefits of Pet Ownership

In addition to the health benefits listed above, owning a pet can also:

  • Help you meet new people. Pets can help you meet new people, whether it's at the pet shop, on a walk, at the park, or at an event (try looking up a pet expo near you). 
  • Add structure to your day. Pets and most people benefit from having routine in their lives, and having a pet can help you add structure to your lifestyle. On days when you might have trouble getting out of bed, having a pet can give you the motivation you need to get your day going. 
  • Offer companionship. Everyone needs a friend, and a pet can be a great companion. Caring for an animal and having them attune to you can provide the reciprocity you need if you're feeling lonely and take the focus away from your problems - especially if you live alone. Most pet owners talk to their pets. It can be great to have an animal companion as a sounding board since they never judge - and some are great listeners.
  • Increase your exercise levels. Especially if you have a dog, you'll be getting in more walking/running/hiking and playtime. This is an easy way to add some extra steps into your day and counteract a sedentary lifestyle. At Pekin Veterinary Clinic, we regularly see how exercise and playtime factor into pets' long-term. health in terms of keeping them fit, mentally active and content.
  • Playing with and exercising your pet can also help them stay healthy. It also reduces the risk of behavioral issues. 

Pets & Seniors

Many seniors, particularly those that live alone can benefit from the companionship of pet ownership. Pets can help older adults find a newfound meaning and joy in life. Choosing to adopt a pet from a shelter, especially an older pet, can add to your sense of fulfillment, knowing that you’ve provided a home to a pet that may otherwise have been euthanized.

Pets can also provide you with a sense of connection, particularly if you have a dog. Dogs are a great way to spark up a conversation and meet new people. 

Older adults with pets also report an increase in vitality. Dogs, cats, and other pets encourage playfulness, laughter, and exercise, which can help boost your immune system and increase your energy.

Senior pets can be a great match for seniors, who may want or need animal companionship but cannot necessarily handle the physical or emotional demands of a young kitten or puppy. A mature furry, feathered or scaled friend may be just what the doctor (and the vet) would recommend. At our Pekin vet clinic, we provide the veterinary care your senior pet will need, including wellness exams and monitoring for health issues senior pets may face.

Pets & Children 

Pets can be a great addition to a child's life. They can have a soothing presence, act as a companion, and teach your child about responsibility. 

Studies have also shown that children with behavioral issues, such as aggression or hyperactivity, can benefit from pet ownership. Of course, both the animal and the child need to be trained to behave appropriately with each other, but the pet can teach your child patience, empathy, and understanding. Your Pekin vet can provide advice on how to help your new pet feel comfortable in its new home, as well as guidance on healthy development and behavior when it comes to your new friend.

If you are considering a pet for your child be sure to pick one that you also won't mind taking care of, especially if you have a young child. Even kids with the best intentions of playing with the dog every day or cleaning the kitty litter box may need some adult help once in a while. 

Other Considerations 

Now that we've talked about all the great things about pets there are a few other points to cover. Having a pet is not a cure-all for poor health, mental or physical. While pet ownership can certainly help you on your way to a healthy lifestyle it is still important to seek proper medical attention if needed. 

It is also important to remember that owning a pet is a big commitment. If you don't have the proper time or funds to successfully raise an animal, owning a pet could end up creating more stress than if you didn't have one. 

Before embarking on the journey of pet ownership, be sure to research, budget, and plan to be sure you and your new friend will have a long and happy life together. Your veterinarian in Pekin, IL is always happy to answer questions and concerns you may have about pet care. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding people or pets. Always consult with a vet before making medical decisions for your pet. 

At Pekin Veterinary Clinic we provide care for a range of pets, from dogs and cats to birds and lizards. Contact our vets in Pekin, IL to set up an appointment.

Caring for Pets in Central Illinois

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