The Friend Who Keeps You Young

Having a pet can provide a lot of benefits for you and your family. One of the most notable benefits is that owning a pet provides tremendous health benefits. These health benefits are why Dr. Jeremy Barron, M.D., medical director of the Beacham Center for Geriatric Medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital says, “Owning a pet is definitely not selfish.”

Reduce stress.

Petting or playing with your dog can lower the stress hormone cortisol. While social interaction with humans and their dogs increases levels of oxytocin, which is a hormone involved in bonding mothers to babies. An astonishing 84% of PTSD patients who have service dogs reported significant reductions in symptoms, and 40% were able to decrease their medications.

Lower blood pressure.

Not only will grooming your pet help lower your body’s cortisol levels and boost oxytocin, but it also can provide a calming effect. “Petting and holding an animal actually helps to reduce blood pressure by injecting this beauty into our life,” explained Barron. “It’s relaxing and transcendental.”

Increase physical activity.

Those who own dogs know first-hand how difficult it can be to get an exercise in on some days—even if the weather is just right. Fortunately, many dog owners find these commutes much more enjoyable when they take their pets with them.

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Boost heart health.

The American Heart Association released a report endorsing dog ownership as a way of warding off cardiovascular disease.

Ease loneliness and depression.

The study found that pet owners have higher self-esteem, and another showed that pets are more effective than human relationships at supporting with depression. “Caring for a pet provides a sense of purpose to the owner,” says Barron. Plus, pets can be social catalysts when meeting people in areas of common interest.

Help specific health concerns.

Beyond their ability to serve as companionship, dogs have been shown to be useful in many ways. Dogs can also be used to detect conditions such as seizures, cancer, and more.

Dogs can be a wonderful companion to those with sight, mobility, or mental disabilities. Dogs are even being used as a tool in the fight against seizures, some cancer treatments and other conditions.


Cardiovascular disease is the branch of medicine that deals with the problems of the heart or blood vessels, often due to high blood pressure and atherosclerosis. Heart valve disorders, heart failure, irregular heartbeats (called arrhythmias), and sleep deprivation can also lead to cardiovascular diseases while cortisol, oxytocin, and PTSD are all related to stress. Social support is the help you receive from your friends, family members and peers.

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Cardiovascular disorder or disease: Problems in heart or blood vessels, often caused by atherosclerosis or high blood pressure. Heart valve disorders, heart failure and off-beat heart rhythms (called arrhythmias are other types of cardiovascular disease.Cortisol: A hormone produced by the adrenal glands on top of the kidneys and involved in the stress response. I

t rises in the morning, inducing wakefulness and also rises during stress. Sleep deprivation, caffeine and alcohol can also raise cortisol levels. Chronically high levels have been linked with low immunity, weight gain and other health problems.

Oxytocin: In men, a hormone released from the pituitary gland that aids penile erection and ejaculation.

In women, it stimulates milk production and uterus to contract. There is experimental evidence for oxytocin involvement in sex drive as the result of sexual reward circuitry activation in males; however more well-designed human studies show no significant effect on male sexual desire or libido by oxytocin nasal spray compared to placebo nasal spray on healthy adult males without sexual anorexia ().

In medicine, oxytocin is sometimes given to pregnant women to induce or speed labor.Post-traumatic stress disorder: A condition where your “fight or flight

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