There is no denying that snuggly puppies and sleepy kittens make us say, “Aww” every time we see them.  And nothing wastes more time on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest than watching funny cat videos and reading memes. Just thinking about sweet, adorable puppies and kittens makes us happier. Did you know that simply being happier also makes us healthier? Besides the cute factor, there are many excellent reasons to share your life with a furry friend. Yes, there is a bit of cost and some effort to owning a pet, but the improvements to your health and well-being are priceless.

The CDC says pets make our lives better

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) website, “Studies have shown that the bond between people and their pets can increase fitness, lower stress, and bring happiness to their owners.” This statement offers three outstanding reasons to have a pet. But before you run to your local shelter to pick out a new friend, read on to learn more about the fantastic health benefits of pet ownership.

Pets encourage better health and increase activity levels.

“I consider getting a pet to be one of the easiest and most rewarding ways of living a longer, healthier life,” states Dr. Edward Creagan, an oncologist with the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. Studies suggest that the simple act of petting a cat or dog, especially when they are sitting on your lap, can lower your blood pressure and release serotonin. Serotonin is the “feel-good” hormone which may work to improve the bond between pet and owner and, as a bonus, help fight depression.

Who wouldn’t love to shed a few pounds or increase fitness levels? Pets support our exercise goals by motivating us to be more active and, more importantly, to get outside for some fresh air. It is very easy to increase your activity level while playing with your pet and taking them for a walk. Whether you prefer a brisk run or relaxed saunter, when you combine movement with sunshine, you can see positive mental health benefits as well. The opportunity to walk your neighborhood and interact with community members also makes you more social, less lonely, and boosts your mood.

Pets keep us warm and make great companions.

Do you get cold at night?  Pets love to sleep on the bed with you. In fact, sometimes your cozy bedmate feels more like a mini-furnace propped up against your feet. So, turn down your thermostat and save some money by snuggling with a furry friend. When you have a pet at home, you will never be alone. They may be sleeping by your feet, or more likely on top of the important paperwork you have in front of you, but the sound of their breathing or purring can be very comforting. Spend some quality time in the presence of a loving four-legged friend and you will feel the instant calming effects.

Pets make us feel good. 

When was the last time someone greeted you at the door by jumping up and down enthusiastically?  Dogs always portray an excited, happy attitude when you come home, while cats seem to care only when they want food. Overall, cats have a much quieter, friendly manner while dogs are loving at all times, even following a good lecture about getting into the kitchen garbage. Pets are great listeners, easy to talk to, and rarely talk back.  Which is probably a good thing.

Cesar Millan, best-selling author and host of the Dog Whisperer and Cesar 911, says, “Dogs don’t rationalize. They don’t hold anything against a person.  They don’t see the outside of a human but the inside of a human.”  Pets are straight-forward and non-judgmental. They truly can be a best friend and trusted confidant, all while contributing impressive health benefits.

Pets give us purpose. 

Do you have an empty nest? Maybe your children have grown up, moved out to live their own lives, and if you’re lucky they come home often to visit. But if you still need someone to take care of, why not give a pet a good home. Fluffy will never outgrow her need for you. She will always require a caring heart to feed, clean, and love her. Visit your local animal shelter and become a hero by offering a forever home to a lucky dog or cat.

Acquiring better health by living with a pet is an amazing undertaking assuming of course that you aren’t allergic. If you tend to get stuffy or sneeze, seek out a breed that doesn’t cause reactions. Pets not only improve our health, but they remind us of the important things in life: food, play, and sleep. Okay, so there are other aspects such as work and travel, but our pets can often accompany us there too.  Enjoy your life and make it healthier and more fun by buddying up with a special feline or canine; they are definitely worth it. Doctor’s orders.

References (2016, 02 03). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from Healthy Pets Healthy People:

Davis, K. D. (2002). Therapy Dogs: Training Your Dog to Reach Others. Wenatchee, WA: Dogwise Publishing.

Fields, L. a. (2013, 10 24). WebMD. Retrieved from 6 Ways Pets Can Improve Your Health:

O’Connor, A. (2013, 05 09). Retrieved from Owining a dog is Linked to Reduced heart Risk:

Warner, J. a. (2004, 05 21). WebMD. Retrieved from Petting A Pooch Can Lift Your Mood:

Featured photo credit: Cait_Stewart via

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