Most pet owners are upfront about the joy that comes from sharing their home with a pet. However, a lot of people are unaware that owning a pet actually does have a myriad of physical and mental benefits. For example, pets can reduce levels of stress as well as alleviate anxiety, depression and feelings of loneliness or isolation; they can even improve your cardiovascular health. Keep reading to find out more.
Do All Pets Have the Same Effect?
While it is true that those with pets do tend to experience health benefits, some people think that these benefits are limited to cats or dogs, but they can be seen across the board regardless of pet type. For example, if you are allergic to other animals, then a rabbit or guinea pig can be a good option. Or birds can make a great companion for older adults. Reptiles are more exotic, but even watching fish swim in an aquarium can reduce tension and lower your heart rate.
Recently studies into the subject have shown that pet owners are less likely to suffer from depression; they have lower blood pressure and higher levels of serotonin and dopamine, which help to foster feelings of calmness and relaxation. They also have lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels which can act as an indicator of heart disease.
One of the reasons that are thought to be behind these therapeutic effects is that having a pet fulfils your basic human need for contact. Even some of the most hardened criminals in prison soften when given access to therapy animals. Stroking or hugging an animal can calm and soothe negative emotions. It eases loneliness, and it can act as a great stimulus for more physical activity.
Pets & Lifestyle Changes
Adopting a few healthy lifestyle changes can play a significant role in improving your mental health or alleviating symptoms of your mental health disorders. Pets can encourage exercise, especially dogs. Taking a dog for a walk is a great way to fit some exercise into your day and boost your endorphins. Exercise is not just good for you; it is also good for your pet too. It can deepen your connection as well as help to eradicate behavioral problems. Pets can also often act as a social lubricant and help you to meet new people. They can aid in the development of new friendships. For example, dog owners often meet other owners on walks, hikes or at the dog park. Pet owners can also meet other like-minded people in pet stores, online forums, or training classes.
Pets also provide companionship. Having a pet as a companion can help to prevent illnesses while adding years to your life. Feeling isolated or lonely can trigger some struggles with your mental health, but caring for an animal makes you feel needed and wanted, and it allows you to focus on something else other than your problems. Most owners talk to their pets and talking your problems aloud can help you to overcome them. The companionship that they offer can also provide comfort and help to ease feelings of anxiety. Taking care of an animal can do wonders for their self-confidence. Unlike humans, pets don’t have worries; they don’t get fixated on things or feel embarrassed, which can help their owners be more mindful and live in the present.
If you are someone who likes to have some structure to their day or a routine, then having a pet can help to provide this for you. Many pets require a feeding and exercise schedule which you can fit around your other responsibilities. Having a consistent routine can keep both you and your pet balanced and calm. No matter how you are feeling, your pet will still need you to stick to your routine. You have a reason to get out of bed and leave the house every day, which can really help those who are struggling mentally. Finally, a pet can also provide some much-needed sensory stress relief. Petting an animal has been proven to lower your blood pressure, heart rate and help you to feel calmer and less stressed.
Because pets can do so much for you mentally and physically, it is important to look after them in return. You need to ensure that their needs are being met. Some pets have dietary requirements which need monitoring too. For example, as your dog gets older, they might need additional nutrients and vitamins to keep them healthy. These organic dog supplements from Native Pet have proven health benefits for your dog.
The benefits of having a pet in your life, both mentally and physically, are innumerable. However, the decision to open your home to an animal is not to be taken lightly. Despite everything that they can bring to your life, they are also a big responsibility. You need to be willing to commit to giving them the time and attention that they need, even when you don’t necessarily feel like it. A relationship with a pet is a two-way street; any love, care or affection that you give them will be reciprocated.