At 6 am, your alarm goes off. You roll over and hit snooze. Suddenly, you have a cold, wet nose shoved into your face. This is accompanied by happy morning chortles and the rhythmic whack of a furry tail against the wall.
You try to ignore it, but the noise only intensifies. Resigned to your fate, you reach over to pat the wiggling body of your dog.
Your cat wanders in and starts yowling at you to serve them breakfast. You try to ignore that too, but the screeching only gets louder. You get out of bed with an audible sigh and possibly an eye roll.
You may sometimes wonder why you subject yourself to such situations if you are a dog or cat owner. However, if you love animals, you know that the benefits far outweigh any drawbacks of caring for a pet. Let’s look at some of these benefits, including the positive impact on your mental health.
Depending on the type of pet you have, they might need to go for regular walks. Walking is one of the easiest types of physical activity you can do. Researchers suggest that even a 10-minute brisk walk is very beneficial.
If you live in an area with access to water, some types of dogs love to swim. Find a solid stick that floats, and your dog is guaranteed to sleep well that night!
Going to a dog park can also have many benefits. It allows your dog to roam freely, provides social interaction, and is a fun exercise method. Seeing your dog play and interact with dogs will likely make you smile, boosting your mood. It also provides a chance for you to chat and socialize with others.
Have you been stressed lately? Is it affecting your health?
If so, you are not alone. Studies have shown that over 70% of people in the United States report that stress is impacting their health. The number of people taking pharmaceuticals for depression is also on the rise.
Animals can have a truly profound impact on our mental health. They can help to reduce loneliness by providing companionship, boosting your mood, reducing stress and anxiety, and making you laugh.
“Among pet owners, a strong majority (86%) said their pets have a mostly positive impact on their mental health. Dog owners (87%) and cat owners (86%) were equally likely to say so…”
Are you an animal lover? If so, you may not be able to add a pet to your family. Fortunately, the internet is full of funny animal videos. A pile of puppies or kittens never fails to make most people smile.
A pet should never be used as a substitute for a professional mental health regimen. However, they can be an excellent addition.
Having a pet also offers many physical health benefits besides increased exercise and good mental health. Studies show the following health benefits from owning a pet:
Owning a pet has many other benefits, especially if you have children. Having a pet teaches children responsibility, improves their feelings of love and self-image, and how to build emotional attachments.
If a child is hyperactive, on the autism spectrum, or has a disability, a pet is a valuable companion and friend.
Therapy and service dogs are a valuable addition to some families. They can even be life-saving. Other companion animals are also a precious part of these families. These dogs are trained to serve various needs, including medical alerts, stress and anxiety reduction, protection, and performing assistive tasks.
Many of these remarkable animals visit nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients especially benefit from the interaction.
Pet ownership is not for everyone. However, many animal owners find that their quality of life is improved with a pet. If you think you might benefit from pet ownership, you can adopt a pet from your local animal rescue. If you do, you will have a new best friend!
On that note, I think I will step outside and play with my dog!