As pet lovers, we can all agree there are many benefits to having pets in our lives, especially when times are tough. And science agrees. From emotional well-being to physical health, dogs and cats have a measurable, positive effect on us. This positive effect is especially important during stressful life events, particularly when we are faced with threats to our personal health and livelihoods. During these times, much-needed relief and comfort can be gained by spending time with your pet.
Fortunately, stress and anxiety both tend to improve when you interact with your pets, in part due to the “feel good” hormones like oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin being released. Stress hormones like cortisol are also decreased. All of this is proven to boost your immune system, which helps maintain good health.
Additionally, people who have a pet tend to be more active (especially if you have a dog that loves their walks), which could mean reduced blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels, leading to an overall improvement in cardiovascular health. Studies have also shown that owning a dog is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and, ultimately, mortality.
Whether it’s in the form of stress, fear, depression, anxiety, or insecurity — when things get rough, our mood and overall mental health can be seriously compromised. Thankfully, we have our cats and dogs to help us through. Most of the time, just being around animals can lift your mood. But it goes much deeper than that.
Science supports that our pets make us healthier and happier, even in the most difficult times. Their ability to mentally lift us up, physically get us moving, and sometimes even force us out of our comfort zone cannot be overstated. During stressful times as well as happy times, we will continue to turn to our pets for their love, loyalty, and companionship.