8 Reasons Why Pets Are Good for Our Mental Health
18 March, 2014
We love our pets for so many reasons. Our pets are our four-legged children that provide us with unconditional love. They are usually the first faces to greet us at our door. Now, there’s even another reason to love our furry friends (or bring one into your home if you don’t have one)…they can help improve our mental health and ward off depression.
There have been numerous studies that have shown that pet ownership can actually help improve depression. Below are the top 8 reasons how our pets can help us remain happy.
1. Pets offer unconditional love and acceptance
If you are feeling down or not in the best of moods, our dogs and cats can sense it. They will provide us with warmth and love. They don’t judge us and don’t notice our moods. Even if you aren’t in the mood to talk, our pets are there for us and don’t even notice that we are in a mild funk.
2. Pets can provide us with exercise
Both dogs and cats can get us off the couch and playing with them. Of course, walking a dog is great exercise and with exercising comes the endorphins which are mood elevators. However, don’t dismiss how playing catch with our cats or even laser tag provides some exercise and activity.
3. Pets give us a schedule and structure to our day
Having a daily schedule helps people with depression. A pet’s natural routine of waking you in the morning or wanting food or walks can help you stay on track. Sleeping until noon is no longer a possibility unless you want to spend an hour cleaning up the next day. Staying out all night needs some preparation and forethought.
4. Pets offer us companionship
Being depressed or down can isolate some individuals. It can make you pull back from your friends and loved ones. If you have a pet, you’re never alone. That can really make a difference from walking into a lonely home or greeted by our furry friends at the door.
5. Pets provide social interactions
Having a pet can gently push you to get more social contact. You might chat with others while walking your dog at the park or waiting at the vet. Pets are natural icebreakers and other pet owners love to talk about their animals.
6. Touching our pets is soothing for our souls
Studies show that people feel better when they have physical contact with others. Pets offer something similar. There’s something naturally soothing about petting a cat on your lap. Studies have shown that petting a dog can lower your heart rate too. The touch can actually stop certain regions of the brain from responding to threat clues. It’s not surprising that petting a dog or cat can lower blood pressure and heart rate and boost levels of serotonin and dopamine.
7. Pet owners are usually in better physical health
Research has found that owning a dog can lower blood pressure, reduce stress hormones, and boost levels of feel-good chemicals in the brain. Due to the increased activity and morning routines, pet owners tend to get sick less.
8. Pets can offer us a distraction
Pets are like enticing movies and books. They take us out of our heads and into another reality – one that only involves food, water and affection. It’s hard to keep thinking about what’s bothering us when a dog is breathing in your face or a cat is purring in your lap.
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