The presence of a pet is associated with a number of important health benefits. The following are some of the ways that taking care of a dog, a cat, or another animal can help relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety, reduce stress, and improve the health of your heart.
The advantages of having a pet
The majority of people who own pets are aware of the almost instantaneous happiness that comes with sharing their lives with companion animals. However, a significant number of us are still unaware of the positive effects that can have on both our physical and mental health when we enjoy the company of a furry companion and cuddle up with them. Only relatively recently have studies begun to scientifically explore the benefits of the bond that exists between humans and animals.
Pets have developed a highly tuned sensitivity to humans, both in terms of our actions and the feelings we express. Dogs, for instance, are capable of comprehending a significant number of the words that we use, but they are significantly more adept at understanding the tenor of our voices, our body language, and our gestures. And just like any trustworthy human friend, a devoted dog will gaze into your eyes to assess the current state of your emotions and make an effort to comprehend what it is that you are thinking and feeling (and to work out when the next walk or treat might be coming, of course).
The benefits of having a pet, particularly a dog or cat, include a lower risk of stress, anxiety, and depression; relief from the negative effects of loneliness; increased activity and playfulness; and even an improvement in cardiovascular health. Children can develop a sense of responsibility and become more physically active if they are involved in animal care. Additionally, older people can benefit greatly from the companionship that their pets provide. But perhaps most importantly, having a pet can bring genuine happiness and love that is never conditional into your life.
Any pet can improve your health
Although it is generally true that people who own pets enjoy greater health benefits than those who do not, a pet does not have to be a canine or feline companion in order to be considered one. If you have an allergy to other animals or if space is limited in your home but you still want a furry friend to cuddle with, a rabbit might be the perfect pet for you. If you’re an older adult, having birds around the house can both encourage social interaction and help keep your mind sharp. Exotic pets like snakes, lizards, and other types of reptiles can make for fascinating company. Even something as simple as watching fish in an aquarium can help reduce the tension in your muscles and slow down your heart rate.
Studies have shown that:
- People who have pets have a lower risk of developing depression compared to people who do not have pets.
- People who own pets tend to have lower blood pressure in stressful situations compared to those who do not own pets. According to the findings of one study, individuals whose blood pressure was borderline hypertensive who adopted dogs from a shelter saw a significant drop in their blood pressure within five months.
- When you play with your dog, cat, or other pet, your body’s serotonin and dopamine levels go up, which has a calming and relaxing effect.
- People who own pets tend to have lower levels of heart disease risk factors such as triglycerides and cholesterol than those who do not own pets.
- Patients who have pets after suffering a heart attack have a higher chance of survival than those who do not.
- People over the age of 65 who have pets go to the doctor’s office 30 percent less frequently than those who do not have pets.
One of the reasons for these beneficial effects is that having a pet satisfies the fundamental need that humans have to be touched. Even the most hardened of prisoners show long-term changes in their behaviour after interacting with pets. For many of these inmates, it was the first time they had experienced affection from another living being. When you’re feeling anxious or stressed out, quickly calming and soothing yourself by petting, hugging, or otherwise touching a friendly animal can help. The company of a pet can also help alleviate feelings of isolation, and the majority of dogs provide an excellent impetus for getting plenty of healthy exercise, which can significantly improve your mood and help alleviate symptoms of depression.
How having pets can assist you in making changes to lead a healthier lifestyle
Making healthy lifestyle changes is an important factor in reducing symptoms of mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, stress, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Taking care of a pet can assist you in making positive changes to your lifestyle by:
Increasing exercise.The act of going for a walk, going on a hike, or going for a run with a dog is an enjoyable and rewarding way to work daily exercise into your schedule. Studies have shown that people who own dogs are much more likely to meet their daily exercise requirements, which is great for both the dog and the owner. Daily exercise is also beneficial for the dog. The majority of behavioural issues in dogs will be eliminated, and both you and your dog will remain in peak physical and mental condition thanks to this activity.
Providing companionship. Companionship can help prevent illness and even add years to your life, whereas isolation and loneliness can cause symptoms of depression. Companionship can even add years to your life. Taking care of an animal, particularly if you are an only child or live by yourself, can help you feel needed and wanted while also diverting attention away from your own issues. The majority of people who own dogs and cats have conversations with their animals, and some even use their pets to help them through difficult times. Coming home to a wagging tail or purring cat is the best antidote to feelings of isolation, if you ask me.
Helping you meet new people.The presence of a pet in the home can serve as a wonderful social lubricant for its owners, making it easier to make and keep new friends. During strolls, hikes, or while at a dog park, dog owners frequently engage in conversation with one another. Pet owners have additional opportunities to socialise and make new friends at events held in pet stores, clubs, and training classes.
Helping one feel less anxious. People who are anxious about venturing out into the world can benefit from the companionship of an animal in that it can provide comfort, help ease anxiety, and build self-confidence. They don’t worry about what happened yesterday or what might happen tomorrow, so having a pet can help you become more mindful and appreciate the joy of the here and now. Pets tend to live in the moment because they don’t worry about the past or the future.
Introducing more order and consistency into your day. A number of domesticated animals, canines in particular, demand that they be fed and exercised on a predetermined schedule. A stable and predictable schedule helps maintain equilibrium and calm in an animal, and it can do the same for you. No matter how depressed, anxious, or stressed you are, if your pet gives you that pitiful look, you will have no choice but to get out of bed and tend to their needs by providing them with food, exercise, and other care.
Providing relief from the sensory stress. Touching someone and moving around are two healthy and speedy ways to manage stress. Petting an animal, whether it’s a dog, cat, or another species, can quickly help you feel calmer and less stressed out, as well as lower your blood pressure.