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Guard Your Health is a resource for Army National Guard Soldiers and family members. Find health-related tools and information. Hear from fellow Soldiers and Families. Make medical readiness part of your personal mission.

The Benefits of Having Pets

Spc. Bethany Schilling kisses her dog upon returning from a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan

Arizona ARBG/Sgt. 1st Class Robert Freese

In this Article:

  • Having a pet can make you feel better, literally.
  • Pets can help improve your overall health and motivate you to exercise.
  • Pets can help fill a void for families during a separation.

Need relief from stress, depression, or anxiety? A pet may be able to help! Having a pet at home has many health benefits. Studies have shown pets can benefit Soldiers’ overall health and comfort families during a deployment or separation.

“The Pet Effect” On the Brain

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 74 percent of pet owners felt better thanks to owning a pet. Pets can ease feelings of loneliness and give owners unconditional love and affection.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says that owning a dog helps Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder because they:

  • Provide companionship
  • Reduce stress and anxiety by decreasing heart rate and lowering blood pressure
  • Give a good reason to get out of the house and spend time outdoors

Health Benefits of Having a Pet

In addition to easing your anxiety and stress, having a pet at home has other health benefits. A pet can:

  • Improve your overall health. The connection between pets and their owners has been known to improve behavioral and physical health. This means fewer trips to the doctor and quicker recovery after an injury or surgery.
  • Help you stay connected with others. Pet owners can meet new people by joining pet interest groups or other animal-related activities.
  • Motivate you to exercise. This includes walking the dog, playing with the cat, or riding horses.
  • Add value to your life. Pets can boost their owners’ spirit. The routine of taking care of a pet can provide daily structure and give an owner a newfound purpose.
  • Boost your immune system. Children who grow up with indoor dogs or cats are less likely to develop asthma and allergies later in life.

Pets Can Fill the Void During a Separation

Another great reason to own a pet? They can help fill a void when you are away during drill weekends, trainings, or deployment. For children, a dog or cat can be like a friend or sibling they share their feelings with. Pets can:

  • Boost a child’s confidence
  • Help develop a sense of responsibility
  • Provide comfort when children feel lonely

Pets are also good at comforting spouses or partners during a separation and providing a much-needed sense of security at home. Plus, pets just make people smile!

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