Effect of Pets on Your Health


Pets have been scientifically proven to benefit owners’ healths. Photo courtesy of ASPCA

Mabel Ra, Photojournalist

In many homes across the United States, families share their lives with a lifetime companion: their pet!

Whether it’s a dog, cat, bunny, or hamster, pets have been scientifically proven to boost one’s health.

Proven from data, scientists claim that human interaction with animals activate and release the hormone oxytocin. The widely known characteristic of oxytocin is to promote feelings of relaxation, trust, and psychological stability. Furthermore, being in the presence of a pet during stressful times can have beneficial factors such as “smaller increases in heart rate, blood pressure, adrenaline and other stress-related factors” (Washington Post). Keeping the heart rate low is not only due to owners walking their dogs, but the physical petting lowers blood pressure and keeps the heart rate steady as well. With pets in your life, you are also exposed to more social opportunities which maintains a happier temperament of the owner. Also significant is a correlation between pets and the prevention of depression. Having someone like a pet who fully looks up to you and provides the owner with a sense of purpose decreases feelings of loneliness and sadness, which combat depression.

Due to the science behind our furry friends and our health, dogs have been trained over the course of many years, and now a large number are trusted with caring for the public. The first known therapy dog was Smoky the Yorkshire Terrier during World War II, adopted by US soldier Bill Wynne. According to Wynne, Smoky was a bright highlight to all the soldiers’ days. To the army, this small dog was a happy presence with her energetic personality. By the year 1947, dogs were widely known to uplift the spirits of injured soldiers. Currently, therapy dogs are often associated with helping the public at places like hospitals, retirement centers, schools, and disaster areas.

Amanda Chung (10), an owner of two happy dogs says, “This is definitely true because I always feel better around my dogs.” From promoting a sense of belonging, keeping your body physically and mentally healthy, to being a constant source of unconditional love, it is no wonder pets are the epitome of a quality companionship.

If your home is lacking a furry friend but you believe one is suited for you, check out your local shelter or animal rescue to adopt! Also remember that the health benefits of a pet should not be the sole encouragement to adopt; the most important part is to provide your pet with a loving home.