Top five emotional benefits of having a pet

After a long and maybe hard day of work, as you come back into your home, you are greeted by your furry pal. Their excitement and joy in seeing you are shown as their tail wags or as they snuggle up to your feet and legs and purr. Quickly, your emotions from the day seem to be lighter and you feel a sense of peace comfort you like a warm blanket (or a warm 55-pound dog lays on you). Having a pet, of any kind, brings a lot of additional benefits to our regular bipedal lives.

  1. Reduces stress, anxiety and depression
    • Having a pet can assist greatly in boosting dopamine and serotonin levels. Both are “happy” chemical responses created by your nervous system. Even after just five minutes of petting a dog or feeling a cat purr, the body can experience a boost in mood emotionally and physically. This also can aid in relieving anxiety by practicing mindfulness as our pets, as they experience life moment by moment. Whereas our mind is most often thinking of what’s next and not really appreciating the current moment.
  2. Encourages exercise and physical activities
    • Exercise is important for both pets and pet parents. Pets need regular physical activity to remain fit and healthy. Taking your pet on a daily walk can lower your blood pressure, promote overall good heart health and can assist in maintaining good mental health as well.
  3. Adds and maintains structure in daily life
    • Your pet will need to be fed and bathed being that they lack thumbs and other capabilities to do it themselves.
  4. Adds purpose and joy into each day
    • Having a “fur baby” or any pet at home to care for can make you feel needed. By having something that adds meaning to you each day, it can also reduce the feeling of loneliness and depression.
  5. Additional benefits for children and seniors
    • Not only does having a pet of your own reduce anxiety but animal hugs and kisses can also reduce muscle tension. Pets also provide an opportunity to get out and meet other people (and their fur babies!) to connect with.

Whether it is a family pet or senior dog from your local shelter, having a pet at home can make a huge difference and adjustment in your mood, daily habits and personal self-care.

Before getting a pet, be sure to consult your own family history to see if there are any past instances of pet allergies. If you would like to be tested before investing in a pet, talk with your primary care provider about allergy and allergen testing. Don’t have a primary care provider? Schedule an appointment today with one of our UofL Health – Primary Care locations and start your journey to better health.