Owning a dog tied to lowering your risk of dying early by 24%, says science
By Sandee LaMotte, CNN
5 minute read
2:40 PM EDT, Tue October 8, 2019
Pets bring joy to our lives (yes, dog lovers -- even cats). Need more proof than the gleeful smile on this child's face? A study from Indiana University found simply watching cat videos boosted energy and healthy positive emotions and decreased negative feelings.
How pets improve our health —
Man's best friend is well known for devotion and loyalty, but did you know that dogs can also extend our lifespans? A new meta-analysis of research on nearly 4 million people found dog owners were 24% less likely to die for any reason.
It's likely that the health benefits of dog ownership have to do with the amount of exercise needed to keep the furry friends healthy -- studies show dog owners can get 30 minutes more exercise a day than people who don't own dogs. Just who is rescuing whom here?
Don't worry, cat lovers. A 2009 study found a lower risk of death by heart attack and overall cardiovascular disease among cat owners, even if they no longer lived with their fluffy friend.
The act of petting your cat releases the bonding hormone oxytocin, also called the "cuddle chemical." The fact that your cat is purring while you're doing this is an additional stress reducer.
It's not just cats and dogs. Studies find health benefits for owners of all kinds of pets, including birds, hamsters, gerbils, fish, snakes ... and even bugs. One study found nursing home residents who cared for cockroaches were less depressed after eight weeks than those who received only health advice.
The act of caring for another creature is part of the health benefit of pet ownership. A 2015 study asked teenagers with Type 1 diabetes to feed and check water levels of fish twice a day. By the end of three months, the teens were better at managing their diabetes.
Pets bring people together, providing opportunities to socialize for those who may be isolated or lonely. Social connections are key to a longer, happier life.
Pets offer the opportunity for different generations to connect, easing the way toward deeper communications, fostering healthy bonding and reducing loneliness.