Being a pet parent isn’t an easy task. It means agreeing to take care of a creature for the rest of its life. Before acquiring a pet, you need to consider the time and funds required for pet care. But other than being a companion and a friend that will never criticize or judge you, did you know that having a pet can help improve your mental health? Most pet-parents of all ages find that pets put them in a good mood, decrease their stress levels, and are great company. Taking care of a pet should not be seen as a chore, but as a healthy routine that helps stay active and focused throughout the day. Pets have a great love for their owner, and as earlier said, pets are good friends who never criticize or judge.
How Can a Pet Improve Your Mental Health?
Every pet parent knows without any doubt that a pet makes them happy. Whether it’s a cat or dog waiting for you to get back from work, or maybe a horse in the stable, any pet ensures unconditional love and acceptance. Besides sticking by your side, pets come with lots of benefits. These benefits may range from heart health, stress, and anxiety.
Boost Your Mood
There is happiness that comes from just looking at your pet. Some studies show that eye contact with your pet may release a feel-happy hormone. The feel-happy hormone or the love hormone is known as oxytocin. This hormone is known for its ability to boost mood.
Pets May Help Lower Stress Hormone
Playing and spending some quality time with a pet lowers stress-related hormones. These benefits can manifest after only five minutes of spending time with a pet. This indicates that pets are very beneficial when it comes to mental health.
Playing with either a cat or dog increases the levels of dopamine and serotonin – hormones that relax and calm the nervous system. While smiling and laughing at your pet’s funny behaviors, your happy- hormone is stimulated and released making you feel more at ease.
Additionally, spending some time with a friendly pet lowers the levels of cortisol – a stress-causing hormone, and increases oxytocin, hence reducing stress naturally. This makes animal-assisted therapy more beneficial. Stroking a pet can also lower blood pressure, reducing stress related to this condition.
It’s also believed that dogs can calm hyperactive children. One study involving stressed adults advised them to have a turtle, rabbit, or toy. However, cladding a toy didn’t have any events, but stroking a rabbit or a turtle reduced anxiety in these individuals. These benefits were reported by individuals who don’t particularly like animals.
Pets Offer Companionship
People with mental problems feel lonely from time to time. This can be settled by adopting a pet. Having a pet in your house means having someone around you all the time. Pet parents feel less lonely compared to people who do not own a pet. Pets also connect you with other people. For instance, most people might admire your beautiful dog and they end up saying “hi” to you and complementing your dog. By this, you will find yourself talking to more people which makes you feel less lonely.
Owning a pet means taking care of its needs every day. You have to set some time for feeding, exercising, grooming, among other needs. Having a daily schedule for your pet’s needs offers predictability and stability in life. Routines are very beneficial for people with depression and anxiety since it makes them feel in control. Children who take care of pets develop a sense of responsibility and can deal with different kinds of relationships in their lives.
Protects Against Anxiety in Children
According to a study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a pet dog can protect against childhood anxiety. In this study, 643 children participated. About half of them owned pet dogs. Their BMI, screen time, anxiety levels, and physical activity were tested. The results revealed that all their BMIs, physical activity, and screen time were similar. However, their anxiety levels were different. About 21% of children without pets tested positive for anxiety, compared to 12% of children with pets who tested positive for anxiety.
As such, you may say that pets are beneficial to children since they can protect against anxiety. Children who grow up with pets might grow up healthier and happier than those who do not grow up with pets.
Pets Make You Feel Needed
Pet parents feel more needed knowing that they have a living creature who depends on them. Taking care of a living thing is beneficial to mental health and gives one a sense of purpose and meaning. For example, when you own a pet, you are aware that you might be the only person to ensure good health and happiness.
You always ensure that your pet is fed and is living in a good environment. You also ensure that your pet isn’t lonely and is in good condition. Your pet depends on you for anything every day. This makes you feel needed and you have to be sober physically and mentally to ensure a good life for your pet.
While pets bring joy, happiness, and wellness into our lives, you should consider your pet’s well-being before adopting one. For instance, a pet requires a peaceful place for it to be beneficial to you. Depending on which kind of pet you would like, space is of the most importance. For instance, if you like a horse for a pet, you’ll require an ample place where it will be comfortable. Pets also require lots of funds to cater for their daily food and vet care. If your pet is unwell, you will also feel a bit stressed out which is not good for your health. Avoid older animals too to avoid using too much on their health since older animals are likely to have health concerns.