Research shows that people who are consistently thankful are healthier, happier, more energetic, more helpful and more hopeful. Really healthy folks practice gratitude more than once a year, but Thanksgiving could kick start a very healthy habit at your house.

One study compared a group of people who made a daily list of five things they’re thankful for to another group of people that listed five things that bugged them. As you may have already guessed, the grateful group was happier, more optimistic and reported fewer physical symptoms.

If you started making your own list and your pet made the list, you’re probably very happy and healthy. Did you realize that pet “parents” can gain several advantages? Take a look at these five pet-centered reasons to be truly thankful this Thanksgiving:

1. Pets are good for you. Your dog’s presence is a gift because having your dog around you improves the health of your heart. Studies done by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Institute of Health (NIH) show that pet owners exhibit decreased blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels. In short, your pet minimizes several risk factors for a heart attack.

2. Pets can train you. Your dog could be your most persistent walking partner ever. Studies conducted by the Wellness Institute at Northwest Memorial Hospital and the NIH indicate that dog owners who take responsibility for walking the dog are less likely to be obese than those who either don’t walk the dog or don’t own a dog.

3. Pets make small talk. Have you ever noticed how your pet is a great conversation starter? What breed is he? How old is she? What a beautiful dog!

4. Pets fight depression. Pet parents are less likely to suffer from depression than people who don’t have pets. Caring for a pet keeps you in a routine – a dog gets you outside and moving. Nothing beats the unconditional love and affection your pet generously gives.

5. Pet germs boost immunities and reduce allergies. People with dogs get sick less often than people with no pets. The germs your dog introduces into your home benefits your immune system. Children born into a household with dogs are less likely to develop allergies – one University of Wisconsin study demonstrated that a child’s propensity for allergies is reduced by as much as 33 percent.

Counting your blessings and benefits changes your focus and improves your health. When some of those blessings are furry and cuddly, your health benefits start to escalate.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!
Photo Credit: romeo’smom via Compfight cc