Pets are a wonderful addition to any family for companionship and/or security, but did you know they can actually be good for your health?
My pets are treated just as I would treat* my children and in return, the companionship, love, dedication and motivation they give me is endless.
It is has been well documented that therapy pets are great for people with such disorders as autism and aspergers, so why wouldn’t they be helpful for the rest of us too?
Here’s 10 ways pets can improve* your health:
1. First and foremost for those of us that live alone, pets can alleviate the feelings of loneliness. One study found that pet dogs fulfilled the social needs of the study participants just as effectively as their friends. Pets are so neat because they can intuitively seek you out when you’re feeling down, refusing to allow you to remain alone.
2. Speaking of being alone, pets can help lessen your isolation. If you have a dog you’ll need to take him/her for walks and other adventures (such as the dog park or the lake). This may force you to engage in conversation that you otherwise would not. You might get to know some of the folks in your neighborhood and/or meet new friends.
3. Pets are great listeners. The greatest part is they don’t talk back, although sometimes it would be cool to hear what they have to say. Anything you want to share with your pet is just between the two of you. Tell them your secrets, practice a speech, talk about your day; whatever it is you have to say, your pet will be willing and ready to listen – and they’ll enjoy the time spent with you just as much as you’ll enjoy the talking.
4. They give you purpose – caring for your pet will give you a crucial feeling of purpose, especially when you’re feeling down or overwhelmed by your own negative thoughts. When caring for your pet you are focusing on something other than yourself and your life which will give you a feeling of gratification too.
5. While giving you purpose, pets can also help reduce* negativity in your life. Just as much as pets are like family, they are like friends. One study found that participants who were asked to write about their pets after being subject to a negative social experience had zero negative feelings and were happy after the experience in lieu of the control group that was asked to draw a map of their college campus.
6. Pets love unconditionally, even when you’re being mean and stressed out. One study suggests that pets can help reduce* stress and comfort us. Furthermore, animal experts say that simply petting or grooming your dog or cat can be comforting, therefore reducing* stress. Don’t forget that your pet will love the attention and it will calm him/her as well. These type of involvement activities helps release the oxytocin hormone in your brain, which relieves stress and anxiety.
7. Remember how pets love you unconditionally – This is an instant mood booster when you’re walking in the door from a long, hard day. Your pet doesn’t care about the nonsense of your day, he/she just cares that you made it back home to him/her so he/she can love you more than when you left this morning.
8. With that unconditional love comes support as well. Some studies say that pet owners feel they receive just as much support from their pets as they do from their friends and family members.
9. Perhaps most impressive benefits of having a pet is lowering your blood pressure. In a study conducted at the University of Buffalo, researchers gave half a group of highly stressed stockbrokers dogs and cats, while leaving the control group without any pets. The study group exhibited blood pressure at significantly more stable levels than those in the control group.
10. They just make us smile. Let’s face it, animals are friggin’ cute and they make us smile, constantly, with their cute mannerisms and ‘person’alities. Smiling is good for your health in itself, releasing neurotransmitters that will raise your serotonin and dopamine levels (the happy hormones), so you’re getting a double boost* when you get a smile from hanging with your pet.
Finally, before you take a pet home for your own, be sure you know what you’re doing and what you need and what your pet needs. There are several, if not too many animals at your local animal shelter that truly desire a loving home because their previous owners could not or would not provide for them. Consider taking a foster pet into your care if you don’t think you can commit to a full lifetime for the pet.