Have you ever been sad and found that cuddling with your kitty makes you happier? Did you ever notice your nerves calm when you’re petting your dog? It’s not just your imagination; having a pet can really improve your mental and physical health.
I know that when I’m sick or depressed, petting my cat or playing with my cockatiel always seems to help me feel a bit better. Many people think that things like this are just a result of taking your mind off the issue, but doctors and scientists have found that spending time with a pet actually helps both your mental and physical health.
It has been shown that people who are disabled will be inclined to stay more active if they have a pet. Caring for the pet is something they do to show their love for the animal, and that care gets them up and moving more than if they didn’t have a pet. Pets have also been shown to be of great help with physical rehabilitation, as they inspire and motivate the patient they’re partnered with.
People suffering from depression, whether the depression is caused by emotional or health factors, find animals make them feel better. Some people may find calm through watching fish, you may find companionship from a dog or amusement from a playful kitten. Having a pet gives a person something to love and interact with that loves them back, and for many this can make a large difference in their mood and outlook on life.
Some people use drugs to achieve a “high” and feel better, but studies have shown that playing with your pet can raise serotonin and dopamine levels, which make you feel happier. Spending time showing love to your pet or playing with them can significantly improve your mood. This time spent with your pet will improve your overall mental health as well.
It was once thought that having pets around infants and small children would increase their risk of having pet allergies as they got older. Research is now showing that children raised with pets actually are less likely to develop pet allergies than those raised in pet-free homes. Children raised around pets are also less likely to develop eczema, and have better immune systems.
Pets can also be good for your social life. Whether online or in person, pets provide a common link between people. If you’re out with your pet, it can be a great conversation starter. For pets that don’t leave the house like cats, birds and reptiles, those animals are a great way to meet people online. There are groups all over the internet where pet owners can meet and get to know each other while they learn about their pets. These online associations can turn into real life friendships.
For older people, pets can have other benefits. Elderly people who have pets tend to feel less lonely. Their pets provide a form of companionship. For seniors with depression, a pet can improve their mood and give them a reason to be active. Some studies suggest that people who have pets live longer than those who do not.
Those of us who have pets understand the bond that is created, and most of us feel that we are better for having animals in our lives. Whether we realize it or not, having out feathered, furry and scaled friends is actually making us healthier, both mentally and physically. It’s a good thing too, those extra years they give us are more years we can spend loving them.