It is estimated that 36.5 percent of households in the U.S. own a dog. There’s a good reason for this – pets, dogs specifically, are great for your body, mind, and spirit.
After all, why would they be used as emotional support animals if they didn’t offer proven benefits?
However, if you still aren’t convinced that dogs (and pets in general) are good for your mental health, keep reading.
Here you can learn several reasons why dogs and other animals are so beneficial to your mental health.
- They Make You Go Outside
Fresh air and sunshine can help to elevate your mood. Also, the sun gives you an additional dose of Vitamin D. Exposure to vitamin D can help to fight a number of mental and physical conditions, including heart attacks, cancer, and depression.
Additionally, when you go outdoors with your dog or cat, you have time to engage with nature. Try to take some time and listen to all the sounds around you and feel the sunshine on your face. The feeling and sounds of nature can be extremely calming.
- Pets Get You Up and Moving
When you walk your dog and when you engage in outside activities, such as throwing a ball, you get a natural boost in energy. This also allows you to let off some steam. Over time, getting outside and playing with your dog can actually make you more physically fit while strengthening your bones and muscles. Not only will this help your body, but also give your self-esteem a boost.
Studies have proven that animal owners, both children, and adults, have lower cholesterol and blood pressure, which may be thanks to the more active lifestyle that pets help to promote. Additionally, if you own a pet, you may have better circulation and a reduced risk of cardiac issues. When your body feels stronger, you won’t be as prone to mental health issues.
- Petting Can Help Reduce Stress
The rhythmic action of petting or grooming your pet is not only comforting to the animal, but also to you. When you concentrate on the texture of their fur and the warmth the animal radiates, it helps you slow down and de-stress. When you are able to connect with your pet, then oxytocin, which is the hormone related to anxiety and stress relief, is released, which can reduce your blood pressure while reducing cortisol levels.
- Pets Reduce Feelings of Loneliness
If you don’t enjoy being alone, then pets are great domestic companions. In some cases, pets are extremely intuitive and will seek you out if you are feeling down. In many cases, they won’t leave you alone at all.
The key is to make sure you fully care for and love the pet you are planning to get before you take them home. You should not use a pet to fill a temporary void and then push them aside. Dogs, cats and other animals are long-term commitments. While it may not always be easy, if you are up to the challenge, they can provide unconditional love during the good and bad times.
- They’ll Listen to Your Problems
You can talk to your pet about anything. They won’t judge or question you. If you need a friendly ear, then getting a pet is a great option.
Having a pet, of any type, is good for your overall health, well-being, and happiness. If you have mental, physical or emotional problems, then consider getting an animal as a companion. There are even specially trained animals to help with certain conditions.