Pet ownership is certainly wonderful, but it isn’t always easy. There are so many tasks involved in caring for a pet such as feeding, exercising, training, and cleaning up after to name a few, that many pet owners may struggle with finding time for themselves.
Although it may keep us busy, as it turns out owning a pet can actually encourage self-care. Many studies have illustrated the incredible health benefits of pets, as evidenced by the fact that pet owners are generally healthier overall than their non-pet owning peers.
The Health Benefits Of Pets
Pets can have a profoundly therapeutic effect on their owners. Just petting a companion animal can immediately elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, two hormones that promote calmness and happiness.
Studies have also found plenty of other health benefits of pets, including:
- Lower blood pressure overall
- Lower triglyceride levels
- Lower cholesterol levels
- Reduction in stress and anxiety
- Decreased rates of depression
Living with a pet also increases your opportunities for daily exercise. Dogs need walks and active playtime to maintain their personal health and fitness, and even indoor cats can enjoy active games such as feather chase. Providing any type of care for a pet often means getting up and performing a physical task, which automatically gets the blood flowing and the muscles moving.
Trained To Help
Although every pet can contribute to our improved self-care, for some pets it’s their actual job. Service dogs can be trained to detect subtle changes to their owner’s behavior or scent, enabling them to alert their owner of a dangerous drop in blood sugar or impending seizure, for example. Dogs are also used to help PTSD sufferers navigate life and cope with emotional trauma.
Make New Friends (And Keep The Old!)
One of the most impactful ways pets can help us to take better care of ourselves is by improving our social lives. Pets of any kind are conversation starters, and can help shy or socially isolated people make connections they otherwise wouldn’t.
Being connected to friends, neighbors, and community members has been shown to reduce depression and can make a significant impact in our health and happiness.
The Beauty Of A Schedule
Having a pet brings a certain level of structure and responsibility to each day. Pets need to be fed and cared for in specific ways, often at specific times. Having a smoothly running daily schedule helps to keep your pet, and you, feeling calm and balanced.
Your pet doesn’t care how much money you make, what type of car you drive or job you have. Your pet won’t judge you for that rude thing you said to your coworker yesterday, or the fight you had with your sibling at Thanksgiving last year. Coming home each day to a pet that thinks the world of you can do wonders for self esteem and brings a sense of joy to each day.