How Pets Positively Impact Your Overall Well-Being
Usually, we discuss the best ways to help our furry friends on the blog—what we can do to reduce their stress, contribute to their physical health and nutrition, and how to have fun with them! But let’s take a moment to recognize how much of a positive influence our pets can have on our lives. Of course, we already know this, that’s why we welcomed our furry companions into our families in the first place! But maybe you haven’t stopped to think about all the ways they make life better. So, we’re here to tell you!
According to Human Animal Bond Research Institute’s (HABRI) survey of pet owners, they said, “the majority of pet owners have personal experience with the health benefits of pets. 74% of pet owners reported mental health improvements from pet ownership and 75% of pet owners reported a friend’s or family member’s mental health has improved from pet ownership.”
Those are the sort of statistics we love to see here at Wonder Paws! Let’s take a closer look at how owning a dog or pet can improve your well-being.
- Provide distraction and sense of purpose
Have you ever had a particularly challenging life event occur where all you wanted was not to think about it? Your pet helps with this! When you have someone depending on you for their basic needs like food, walks, and love it provides a distraction from what’s going on outside of that. You can take them on an adventure, groom them, teach them new tricks, and all sorts of things to help distract you—and boost your mood in the process. They even distract you with their cuteness! Maybe sometimes too much, but we don’t mind! This sort of balance is much needed in our lives.
Caring for your pet also provides you with a sense of purpose. If you have ever questioned your place in the world or how much you matter to those around you, well, you mean everything to your pet! They not only depend on you for their care and needs, but they love you unconditionally.
- Ease stress
A health report from Johns Hopkins Medicine said, “Research has shown that simply petting a dog lowers the stress hormone cortisol, while the social interaction between people and their dogs actually increases levels of the feel-good hormone oxytocin.”
There you have it, interacting with animals can actually decrease those stress-related hormones. This makes perfect sense because I’m sure we have all experienced a calmness when we sit with an animal, petting them and snuggling them. We feel their love and contentment and adopt it onto ourselves.
- Reduce loneliness
This is a big reason that many people welcome pets into their lives in the first place. If you live alone, or if you have a partner or family who is out of the house a lot, a pet is someone to share your space and spend time with you. You have to take care of them, they force you to get out of the house for walks or outings, and overall, you need to think about someone other than yourself when you own a pet, which is tremendously helpful for combatting loneliness. They’re even there to greet you when you return home—the opposite of being alone. And isn’t the simple act of sitting on the couch to watch TV or read a book so much more satisfying with a furry companion by your side?
- Reason for you to socialize
Everyone loves to talk about their pets—and show off pictures of course. Sometimes friendships, and even romantic relationships, are made due to connecting over furry companions. It’s a shared interest and creates a bond between you and others!
If you have a dog that is socialized, you can bring them to the dog park or for outdoor dining, which opens you up to conversation or company from others who clearly share your same love and interest in animals. We have all been those people who ask to pet another’s dog, right? These sorts of social opportunities are positive influences on our lives.
- Encourage exercise and playfulness
Whether you have a dog, cat, or another pet companion, they help you to exercise and engage in fun! Dogs help with exercise in the obvious ways, in that you have to get out and walk them every day. You may even have to run and hike with them if you have a very active breed or puppy. In addition to exercise, you can also engage in games with your pets. Playing their favorite games always provides laughter and smiles, which in turn boosts the mood and gets you more active all at once.
The human and pet bond is a mutually beneficial relationship where everyone wins. So, give your pet an extra scratch, snuggle, and hug to thank them for all they do for your well-being. They deserve it, and you deserve every ounce of love they give you!
Shay Siegel is a young adult author, freelance writer, and editor from Long Island, NY. She has a BA from Tulane University and an MFA in Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Always a lover of animals, Shay had several cats growing up. She's now a dog mom to the snuggliest rescue pit bull, Bernie. She enjoys writing on a variety of topics and sharing her love and knowledge of animals with others!