How pets and mental health go hand in paw

Pets and mental health

Did you know our feathered, furry and scaly friends can help us feel better?

Pets and mental healthOur mental health has sure been coming into question within the last few years, and it is bringing to light a desperate need in our nation. As many are beginning to be more open, come forth and speak about their struggles with mental health, there is a rush to find a way to manage or eradicate the symptoms as well as the underlying diagnosis. While there are quite a few medications on the market, as well as therapies, those tend to cost an arm and a leg. Also, many of us are wary of the effects of taking heavy medications regularly. While all of these methods have proven results, many of us are turning to a more holistic approach, and getting an animal has many benefits. Pets and mental health really do go hand in paw.

Pets help to lower our stress

Our pets help to lower our stress hormones in a wide variety of ways. One of the most obvious and seemingly simple ways is by snuggling up to us during the day. Our pets help to reduce our stress because they are extremely sensitive to our needs and can pick up on our body language and tells. They are incredible empaths that can even notice something amiss with us that our closest loved ones may miss.

Pets help to boost hormones that promote happiness and relaxation

Many can relate to improvements in their mental health when they feel as if they have been cared for, hugged, looked after and generally thought of. When our animals display unconditional love toward us, we tend to get happier and feel calmer and at ease. Being around our pets releases more of our “happy” hormones, including dopamine and serotonin, that make us feel more chipper and calm.

Pets get us out and about

You may have noticed after adopting your pet that you are engaged in a more active lifestyle. Perhaps your apps and watches are updating you with an alert that you are getting more steps in during the day. This is because your animal needs you to feed, water, house and take him or her out for a walk or run. Even if you choose to have a cat or indoor animal, you will be getting up and more mobile to take care of the pet or buy things for him or her. A dog especially will have you running around playing with him or her.

Pets help us in social situations

If you are more of an introvert, or if your mental health has been taking a dive lately that is keeping you from getting around people more often, then a dog may be the right option for you. Dogs not only get you to leave the house more often, as mentioned above, but they love to be around all kinds of people. Dogs are often well-loved by a lot of people, so it will be a magnet for you to get more people coming your way, making it easier for you to meet them, if you are a bit shy. They will pull you into places that are fun for them and full of people, for example, parks, beaches, some stores and hiking trails. There you can meet people in a more organic, natural way.

Pets get us to start and keep a routine

Science has been telling us for years, that routines are good for all of us, from the smallest child to the elderly as well. Children with special needs often are put onto routine schedules to help them cope with the needs that he or she has. Pets and wellbeing are examined very well by Helpguide who note that as dogs and other pets need to eat, drink and sleep at regular times during the day and night, which forces the owner into a routine as well. This may help you to better structure and plan a routine for yourself.

Keeping our furry friends happy

While having pets reduce stress and provide us with a boost in our mental wellbeing,  we also need to be extremely careful with them. While it does not feel like a lot of work, our animals can also be affected by our own actions. It is important to return the love that the animals are giving and to care for the needs of the pets throughout the day to keep them energized and filled with food, water and love.

Make sure that while he or she is chasing after you and cuddling up to you, that you are providing all that you can for him or her without overexerting yourself.


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About David Barnes

I'm a proud dog daddy and a freelance writer, currently contributing to Totally Goldens. My family includes a 5-month-old Golden Retriever baby named Jackie and a 7-year-old Jack Russell Terrier, Max. Outside of spending time with my family, I'm probably running somewhere in nature or camping with my best buddies.