Health benefits of keeping pets

Pet owners keep pets for various reasons. For some people, who grew up with dogs or cats in their childhood, living without a dog or a pet for that matter when they are grown up and with the wherewithal and the ability to shoulder the responsibilities that come with owing a pet seems like an aberration.

Most of these sets of people have grown up to own and love pets passionately for who and what they are, not minding in most cases the pecuniary gains that come with being a pet lover . They are the ones who keep pets solely for friendship and companionship and can even take the love and jealousy  further by castrating or spaying their pets by not wanting to share the love they have for them with any puppies or kittens that might have resulted if they had not done those surgical procedures.

For some, they have their pets or those weird, wild looking and aggressive dogs for the purpose of wading off unwanted visitors and night marauders. In this case, the dogs are seen as super bodyguards, incorruptible, always loyal and faithful protection, and a better replacement  or complements for human guards.

In another instance, some pet lovers keep pets for a combination of the reasons aforementioned with the additional benefits of selling off puppies that  may result from keeping them and making some cash by the side. In all of these , an important and essential benefit of keeping a pet that is not realised by and obvious to most pet lovers is the health benefits that come along with having a pet, be it a dog, cat and exotic and caged birds like parrots or free roaming like ostriches, geese, duck or peacock. These health benefits do not come on a platter! You must love and care for your pets passionately from your heart! Meaning this love and care must be genuine, deep and far-reaching.

As good and excellent exercise is for the pet, so it is for the human body and the pet owner. Making time out, if you passionately love and care for your pet, out of your busy and tight schedule to walk your pet within your vicinity or play and run around within your compound with the pet, if not more than 30 minutes at least five times in a week  may prove a very potent, effective and drug–free way to reduce your excess bodyweight and lower  your high blood cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure and blood sugar, all of which have been fingered as precursors of stroke, heart diseases , hypertension, diabetes, cancers and kidney problems .

As you walk your pet, you, the owner is indirectly being exercised too, leading to weight loss and prevention of obesity. And obesity has been found to be precursors of many heart related diseases, cancers and other modern-day, lifestyle diseases and ailments. In fact, it has even been proven that families that have pets and love them passionately, have reduced case of heart related ailments and other diseases. And if somebody already has a heart related disease or specifically stroke, having a pet to love, pet and overall show affection to, hasten the process of recovery. To derive these health benefits the whole household must be fully and deeply involved, not just the feeling and fact of having a pet at home. Being involved means creating the time and efforts to groom and wash your pet and feed amongst other things. This will go a long way in one hand in creating the much needed bond and relationship between the pet and its owner(s) and by extension according the much needed health benefits.

Having pets around or in the home is a mood enhancer as it reduces the feeling of loneliness and isolation which is a good therapy for depression and anxiety .The petting and handling of pets, with its resultant calming effects  and grooming that come with having pets for friendship and companionship always go a long way in relieving stress in stress management, with stress being a precursor of many of our rampant, modern-day ,lifestyle and non–infective diseases and reduced body immunity. Apart from being a means of socialising, children who grow up with pets have also been found to benefit from emotional development as children who are attached to pets learn to express themselves in more ways and relate better, not to talk of the act of teaching them responsibility by assigning and doing various duties and chores pertaining to taking care of pets in the household.

Overall, the popular saying that dogs and by extension pets are man’s best friend, is not an overstatement after all.


Written by Dr. Olutunde John Olarinde


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