The Importance of Pets in Our Lives

Categories: Caregiving Moments, Uncategorized

We’ve all heard people who say that pets are “just” animals, as though somehow they’re not important in our lives. These people have likely never owned a loyal dog or loving cat and their words couldn’t be further from the truth. Most pet owners will know how wonderful owning an animal can be; they will understand the companionship and how beautiful bonds can be formed between animal and human.

The benefits to owning a pet are endless.

sheltie dog

photo: Transitions LifeCare

They’re Good For Your Health

Did you know that it has been scientifically proven that stroking an animal can greatly reduce your stress levels? If you spend around 15 minutes petting your favorite cat or dog, your body will release the following natural “feel good” hormones: oxytocin, prolactin and serotonin. It also lowers your cortisol, which is the body’s natural stress hormone. Not only will this send your body into a relaxed state, but it can also lower your blood pressure by 10% too. If you own a dog, then you will have to walk it at least once or twice a day which means you will be getting vital fresh air and exercise while having the opportunity to connect with nature and bond with your four-legged friend.

They Give You Unconditional Love

Animals do not ask for much in life, and most just need a warm, safe and sheltered place to live, as well as adequate food, water and exercise. In return they will give you unconditional love, loyalty and companionship. Dogs are a little more well known to offer unconditional love; cats can be a little fickle! But having a furry friend means you will always have a little living being, waiting patiently for you at home and ready to welcome you with a wagging tail or a purr.

They Offer Emotional Support

It’s incredible just how much support an animal can bring to your life. As MyPetNeedsThat mentions, if you are particularly vulnerable or have special needs then there are certain dog breeds that are perfect at providing emotional and physical support. A dog or cat can help with loneliness, give you companionship and someone to talk to, and sit with you during the evenings. Pets can be lifesavers when it comes to depression and grief. They can give you a sense of purpose and a reason to get out of bed when you are feeling particularly depressed or anxious. Animals such as cats and dogs can have a deeply calming effect on humans and can often pick up on their owner’s moods: snuggling up to you when you are feeling sad or licking your hands if they sense that you have anxiety.

Owning a pet can open up your world. If you have a dog, then you will have to walk it daily, which means that you will have interactions with other dog owners and walkers too. This can help with loneliness in people who find it difficult to make friends.

Playing with a cat or a dog can take your mind away from your problems and place you in the “here and now.” This is basic mindfulness and wonderful for mental health.

In summary, owning a pet will change your life and bring you so much joy and love. They help us gain a sense of responsibility, show us unconditional love, and are always there when we need them. Dogs are more high maintenance but bring many different health benefits, whereas cats, rabbits and gerbils are easy to look after, need little exercise and give our lives new meaning and purpose.

–by Katie Reeves
Katie is owner of MyPetNeedsThat, an online resource for pet owners.

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