The Power of Pets

It’s no secret that owning a pet brings happiness, comfort, and companionship to our everyday lives. What’s even more amazing, however, is that pets can help improve both our physical and mental health as well. That’s why to recognize May as Mental Health Awareness Month, we want to highlight the benefits of pet ownership for our mental wellbeing, and how caring for an animal can make our lives happier and healthier!

Pets Support Social Connections

Along with providing companionship for their owners, pets can also support their owners in creating friendships and connections with other humans. Animals make socializing easier as they provide a common topic to talk about with other pet owners. People who walk their dog on a daily basis are also more likely to bump into other people walking and therefore create a gateway of social interaction and connection. In other words, animals can help create friendships and in turn, reduce loneliness and social isolation!

Pets Help Build Healthy Habits

Because our pets require our care and assistance every day, this can help us to build a routine of healthy habits. For example, many dog owners are more inclined to exercise on a weekly basis to keep their pet healthy and entertained, therefore meeting their own exercise requirements as well. As such, spending more time outside of the house also increases our physical and mental health. Most pets also fall into a feeding routine and will wake their owners up at the same time every morning, giving us a reason to get up and start our day. Creating a regular sleep routine is good for our mental state, and pets can help us keep this on track!

Pets Increase Our Self Esteem

Going along with our role of being caretakers, knowing that pets love unconditionally and without judgement has been proven to increase their owner’s sense of self-worth. Knowing that your pet will be loyal to you and provide unbiased love and attention, regardless of your life’s situations, gives us a boost of self-esteem that is unlike other feelings of confidence. The next time you’re feeling down, try envisioning yourself as your pet would see you!

Pets Help Us Be Mindful

Sometimes life can get away from us when we constantly worry about our past and future situations. Our animal companions, however, have no such worries and constantly live life in the present. Because of this, they aid in teaching us mindfulness, which is the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to the present. By focusing only on the present moment, our brains can relax as we start to become calmer and more rational in our thinking and behavior. We can learn a lot from our furry companions. That’s why we call it the power of pets!

Pets Give Us Purpose

The rewarding act of caretaking has many mental health benefits, as caring for another living being gives us a sense of purpose and meaning. Knowing that our pets rely on us for their basic needs and quality of life makes us feel special and wanted. These traits can increase dopamine as well as relieve loneliness and depression. Plus, the act of doing good makes us feel good as well, and can actually lead to a longer life!

Pets Lower Stress Levels

The simple act of petting or playing with an animal has shown to lower levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) as well as lower blood pressure. The overall health effects of stress and high blood pressure on the body can be detrimental, which is why interacting with animals on a daily basis can have a huge impact on both mental and physical health. This is why animal-assisted therapy is so effective as well. We call it the power of pets!

Pets Increase Relaxation

Studies have shown that interacting with a friendly animal for as little as five minutes helps our bodies to release serotonin and dopamine, two hormones that relax the nervous system and help to create a sense of calm in the body. The more we smile and laugh while interacting with the animal, the more these hormones are released. Becoming and staying calm is a huge benefactor for improving our mental wellbeing, and animals can aid us in this relaxation process. The power of pets is truly amazing!