Pets Effect on Mental Health

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Pets may help with some powerful health benefits. Here’s how caring for an animal can help relieve depression, anxiety, lower stress levels, and can even improve heart-health.

Pet owners like to make it obvious how much they love raising and sharing their lives with their furry companion(s). However, many people are unaware of the physical and mental health benefits that come with the animal. Pets have evolved to become attached to human behavior and emotions. For example, dogs are able to understand a majority of words we use, but they’re even better at interpreting our tone of voice, body language, and gestures. A loyal dog will look into their best-friend’s eyes and will enter their emotional state and try to understand what you’re feeling and thinking. All pets, most commonly dogs and cats, can reduce stress, anxiety,  depression, ease loneliness, encourage exercise and playfulness, and can even improve cardiovascular health. Caring for animals can help children grow to be more social, secure, and active. Pets provide companionship for older adults, and perhaps most importantly, a pet can add unconditional love to your life.

Studies have shown that:

Pet owners are less likely to suffer from depression than those without pets.
People with pets have lower blood pressure in stressful situations than those without pets. One study even found that when people with borderline hypertension adopted dogs from a shelter, their blood pressure declined significantly within five months.
Playing with a dog or cat can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, which calm and relax.
Pet owners have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels (indicators of heart disease) than those without pets.
Heart attack patients with pets survive longer than those without.

Pets can also help with healthy lifestyle changes such as:

Increasing exercise
Providing Companionship
Helping you meet new people
Reducing anxiety
Adding structure and routine to your day
Providing sensory stress relief