What are the mental health benefits of being a pet parent?
Adopting an animal into your family is a highly rewarding experience filled with fluff, laughs and unconditional love. If your family feels one species short, you may be contemplating the benefits of becoming a pet parent. In fact, multiple studies have proven that being around animals has a tangible positive effect on our mental health, and can help people of all ages combat mental illness, anxiety and low mood.
Not only do our four-legged friends support our wellbeing, but some also play an important role in assisting those living with disabilities or other challenging health issues. Whether you need a psychiatric service dog or just someone to care for and cuddle, read on to discover some of the most incredible ways in which being a pet parent can boost your mental health.
Animals seem to emit a calming aura that is impossible to ignore, and just their presence affects many of us in a way that instantly soothes us. Stroking an animal reduces our stress levels, with studies showing the amount of cortisol in our bodies decreases in as little as ten minutes.
The social interaction between humans and their pets also boosts production of our feel-good hormones, such as oxytocin. These chemical reactions in turn reduce our blood pressure, which further calms anxiety and helps us to regain a state of calm.
Everyone feels lonely sometimes, but having a pet around is a great way to keep those pesky low moods at bay. Offering cute and adorable companionship, pets have a way of making us feel valued and loved just for being there. Furthermore, having a dog will ensure you have to venture outdoors to exercise them, and they are great conversation starters with other humans.
Just having the responsibility of caring for an animal can help us feel that we are living more purposefully, which is a powerful tool for combating loneliness, depression and other negative feelings that sometimes threaten our mental health.
For people living with mental illness or physical health issues, pets can be a constant and reassuring presence. Psychiatric service dogs take the weight off human carers as they provide day-to-day assistance that can allow people with certain health problems to live independently. Not only is this confidence boosting, but they also benefit from all the previously mentioned perks of having a pet.
Assistance dogs are trained to react appropriately if your health deteriorates, which can be anything from applying pressure therapy to calm your central nervous system to fetching your medicine and calling for help. These are truly special pets, who make a massive difference to the lives of numerous adults and children.
The right pet for you
When considering becoming a pet parent, be sure to carefully assess which species, breed and type of pet would best suit your living situation, family and lifestyle. Dogs and cats come with many different needs and personalities, but you can narrow down your choices by thinking about how often you’re at home, how often you can exercise them and the size of your house and garden.