Mind-Body

Why Owning A Pet Can Make You Healthier, Happier, And Add Years To Your Life

pets for depression
Written by Health Coach Drew

pets to make you happyThe simple answer is “YES”, having a pet can make you healthier and happier.If you are a pet owner, you probably already know the answer to this question. You love your pets and they become part of your family. You likely turn to them for affection and comfort when you are feeling sad, lonely, or stressed out. You love them and care for them as if they were one of your children.  You may even think of them as one of your children.

Research has proven what pet owners have always known. Pets have a positive impact on many areas of our lives, and pet owners often are better off than non-pet owners when it comes to overall health and well-being – especially those who have close relationships with their pets. Naturally, there are many factors that contribute to this, but in general, owning a pet has many positive benefits.

Health Benefits of Having a Pet

Owning Pets For Stress and Anxiety Relief:

Having a rough day? Maybe your job, family or finances are stressing you out? Who better to turn to for comfort and relaxation than you pet? Spending time with your pet, petting them and playing with them is wonderfully relaxing. It’s not all in your head. Research has shown that petting an animal lowers blood pressure and lowers stress levels. Our pets can give us a great deal of comfort as they give us affection and receive affection from us. If you do suffer from anxiety, along with having a pet you can practice breathing techniques for stress as well.

Pets For Depression:

Studies have shown overwhelming evidence that pets are wonderful for people who struggle with depression.

cute cat

For one, pets offer a safe, simple and uncomplicated love that often seems difficult to find in human relationships, especially for someone who has suffered through trauma. A person who is battling depression may isolate themselves from other people which can deepen the depression, however having a dog or cat to cuddle with offers much needed love and affection. With your pet, you are not alone. You have someone to keep you company and offer you love and affection.

Owning a pet carries responsibility and requires you to have a routine to take care of your pet. You need to feed and care for your pet daily and tend to their health needs. This provides a sense of purpose. Having a routine and a reason to get out of bed and get moving every day is very important for someone who struggles with depression

Depending on the type of pet, it also creates more opportunity for social interaction. You have to take your pet to the vet. If you have a dog, you meet people while walking them or out at the dog park. People love talking about their pets, too, which creates opportunity for form social connection with other pet owners.

Pets For Heart Health:

playing-with-dogStudies have shown that dog owners have lower blood pressure and a lower risk of heart disease. They have also found that dog owners with heart conditions live longer than people who do not own dogs and have similar health conditions.  Your dog requires exercise. Lucky for you, he’s making you healthier by taking you out for a walk.

More Happiness:

Pet owners tend to be happier and less lonely than non-pet owners. They even go to the doctor less frequently than non-pet owners. Your pet gives you unconditional love and affection, and a sense purpose in life. Pets also bring a great deal of joy through play and their funny little quirky behaviors. There is a reason why people spend hour watching silly cat and dog videos online and posting memes about their pets.  They make us laugh and, as you know, laughter is the best medicine. Playing with and petting your animal companion releases hormones that are calming and that increase your feeling of well-being.

Healthier Children:

Kids who grow up in homes with pets have stronger immune systems and are less likely to have asthma and allergies – and they receive all of the other benefits that we mentioned.

Pets bring a great deal of joy to their human companions.  Animal Assisted Therapy programs have brought wonderful health benefits to patients in hospitals and nursing homes, as well as to adults and children with disabilities. Pets are often recommended to help people who are struggling with depression and anxiety. They are wonderful gifts for many people.

Best Pets for Depression:

If you are battling depression and wondering what would be the best pet to help with depression, here are a few suggestions:

  1. Make sure you have enough energy to care for the type of pet you choose, and are able to financially support your pet.

2. Companion animals such as a dog or cat are highly recommended because they provide direct interaction and physical affection. Dogs are great because they need to be walked and exercised, which will help you get up and moving, too. The type of pet you choose will depend largely on your preference and personal situation. Birds, fish and other animals also have health benefits and can be very enjoyable companions.

Here is a short video on the how amazing dogs are for us.

3. If you are unable to own a pet due to living circumstances or an inability to provide the necessary care, you can still find ways to spend time with animals. Visit a friend or family member with pets. Volunteer at a local shelter or animal rescue. Visit a local petting zoo. Stop by a local pet store that has animals for adoption.

Best Pets for People with Allergies:

If you have allergies to animal dander, you may still be able to own a pet. The pets you can have will largely depend on the type and severity of your allergies.  Pet allergies are most commonly associated with saliva, dander and urine.

  • There are dogs and cats that are “hypoallergenic” – meaning that most allergy sufferers have less reaction to them than other dogs and cats. These pets may work well for you but be aware that they are not 100% hypoallergenic.
  • Birds may have allergens, however many people who do not do well with cats and dogs are fine with birds. Birds can make great companion animals.
  • Fish are good pets for allergy sufferers. They do not have the interaction or the cuddly benefits of a cat or dog, but are often very enjoyable and soothing pets.
  • Lizards and turtles are great pets for people with allergies. There have been very rare cases or allergic reactions to these pets, and owners are able to bond with these animals, too.

So if you don’t own a pet, what are you waiting for? The benefits of owning a pet far outweigh the cost of caring for them.

About the author

Health Coach Drew

HI, MY NAME IS DREW. I'm a certified health coach and nutrition expert. My goal is to take the confusion out of weight loss and healthy living and make it simple for everyone. Take The 21-Day Smoothie Diet Challenge

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