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Pets can benefit your health, except in this case…

being a fur friend Playing with and snuggling up must be good for your health, right? Well, yes and no.

Research has shown that owning a pet has many physical and mental health benefits — but there may be some downsides, too.

In recognition of National Pet Day on April 11, we’ve taken a look at some of the ways pets can affect your health and well-being, for better or worse.

Pets can promote exercise and heart health

Research has shown that a pet, especially a dog, can not only warm your heart but also make it healthier.

Studies have shown Pet owners have lower blood pressure and are more likely to maintain a healthy weight, according to a Harvard Medical School report. Dog owners are also more likely to get the two and a half hours of exercise per week that experts recommend.

This study supports previous findings from the American Heart Association that showed that owning a pet, and especially a dog, is a Reduced risk of heart diseasePerhaps because dog owners are more likely to engage in regular physical activity by walking them.

Pets can support mental health

Pets can also be good for your mental health, bringing psychological benefits such as reducing loneliness and reducing stress, anxiety and depression.

“When a dog owner looks a dog in the eye and pet the dog, the owner will release oxytocin, the love hormone,” Dr. Elizabeth Frates previously said. told CBS News. Also, petting a dog can lower a person’s levels of the stress hormone cortisol, he noted.

This helps explain why Pet therapy program It has grown in popularity over the past few decades. Studies have shown that patients are happier, more alert, active and less anxious when a pooch pops in during hospital treatment.

But despite all the positives of having a pet in your life, there are a few potential pitfalls to keep in mind:

Pets can disrupt your sleep

sleeping well Important for your healthAnd pets can sometimes interfere.

A recent study published in the Journal of Human-Animal Interaction found that pet ownership is associated with less sleep. Studies have shown that having a dog is more likely to cause insomnia and sleep problems, while having a cat is more likely to have twitching legs.

Man sleeping with chocolate labrador in bed

Sabena L/ EyeEm via Getty Images

Pet parents who share their beds with their beloved animals won’t be surprised by these results — especially if your dog takes up half the bed or your cat likes to pounce on your leg late at night.

“Although the causal nature of pet ownership on sleep quality and sleep disorders has not been established, the study findings are consistent with previous studies that have found that pet ownership has a negative impact on sleep quality,” the study noted, also suggesting that people’s pets Research on exactly where one sleeps and its effect on sleep, which was not specified in this study.

Sick pets can be a “caregiver burden.”

As much joy as a pet can bring, the emotional toll can be high when that cherished dog or cat becomes ill. Care for a sick animal often ends in a placement Significant “caregiver burden“On its owner, a study from 2017 found.

Basically, it’s the heavy emotional distress a person can feel when caregiving stretches a person’s physical, emotional or even financial capacity to the breaking point, study author Mary Beth Spitznagel previously explained to CBS News.

“We found that chronically ill pets showed a greater burden of caring for them than healthy pets,” Spitznagel said. “Most pet owners consider their pets to be part of the family, so it was not a surprise that the pet caregiver’s emotional response would be similar in nature to the response we often see in people caring for an ill family member.”

—Amy Kraft and Alan Moses contributed to this report.

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