Ask anyone who owns a dog or cat how they feel about their animal and joy will spread across their face. Owning a pet can bring happiness, and scientists are now starting to understand the mental and physical health benefits that pet ownership can bring. If you’re not convinced, here are a few reasons why.
The mental health benefits of pet ownership
Owning a pet can bring with it many positive health benefits, such as lower incidences of depression and anxiety. In turn, this can lead to lower blood pressure when dealing with stressful life situations.
Looking after a dog or a cat can help increase our levels of happy hormones like dopamine and serotonin. These are both known to calm and relax us.
How pets can help you make healthy lifestyle changes
It’s automatically assumed that it’s cats and dogs that give the greatest happiness boost, but even people who own fish report that they find it incredibly relaxing to watch them swimming in their aquariums.
Caring for a pet can help to give you a mental health boost in the following ways:
- Help you get fit
A dog needs walking daily, and with that comes fresh air and exercise for the owner. They’re a great motivator to get you out and about, whatever the weather. Feeling the elements is a great mood booster and can do wonders for your mood. Dog owners are more likely to meet fitness targets, and not only that but it will also create a deeper connection between the two of you.
- Routine and structure become part of everyday life
Dogs and cats often require very specific feeding schedules, alongside exercise. This can provide a routine and structure to an adult’s day too, which helps with mental health. Even the regular routine check-ups and appointments at professional pet healthcare facilities like Park Lane Vets require scheduling and can help provide a sense of normalcy for your pet, and for you too. A pet provides a reason to get out of bed in the morning.
- Friends for life
The companionship a pet provides is for life. It can help you as much as it helps them and stops you feeling lonely, isolated, and down. Caring for an animal makes people feel as though they have a purpose and that they’re needed. Dog and cat owners will often talk to their pets as they would other family members or friends, and this can be a real help if you feel lonely or at a loose end with no-one else to talk to.
- Owning a pet means you get to talk to other pet owners too
Animals are a great leveler, and if you walk your dog every day, chances are you’ll meet other dog walkers who are doing the same thing, and often can strike up conversations with them.
- Sensory stress management
Stroking, petting or cuddling your pet is a great way to help reduce blood pressure, and to feel less stressed. There is nothing quite like the feeling of having a dog or cat curled up in your lap at the end of a busy day. It grounds you and provides a real feeling of calm.