Almost 60% of American households have at least one pet. Three in four pet owners have dogs, while a little less than half own a cat.
We’ll save the dogs vs cats debate for another day and focus on a more important topic: pets and mental health. Having a family dog (or cat) doesn’t just give you something cute to play with. There’s evidence to support that pets can do wonders for your physical and mental health too.
Here are four reasons why you should consider adding a puppy or kitten to your family.
1. Lowers Stress Hormones
That happy, relaxed feeling you get while petting a dog or cat isn’t in your imagination. This simple connection is powerful enough to create a measurable difference in your body’s stress hormones.
Studies show that even 10 minutes of interaction with a dog and cat resulted in a noticeable drop in cortisol levels. If you struggle with stress, anxiety, or depression, a family dog could help to boost those feel-good hormones.
2. Creates a Sense of Routine
All of us have had our routines disrupted in the wake of the pandemic. As we struggle to adjust to the “new norms” of remote work and school, pets can help bring some normalcy to our daily routines.
Your pet relies on you for food, exercise, play, and companionship. These daily routines can be a real source of comfort and stability at a time when everything else feels uncertain. If you have kids, getting them involved in pet care will help them grow into confident, responsible adults.
3. More Exercise & Time Outdoors
The perfect family dog doesn’t just improve your life at home — he’ll force you to spend more time outside too. What’s the connection with your mental health?
Even 30 minutes of daily exercise can reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. Taking your dog for a brisk walk fits the bill perfectly. Chances are you’ll spend more than 30 minutes a day, seven days a week, walking or playing with your dog, which will only boost your mood even more.
Spending more time outside also means you’ll enjoy the mental and emotional benefits of direct sunlight.
4. Comfort & Companionship
Pets can’t completely replace human interaction, but they can do a lot to combat feelings of isolation and loneliness.
If you struggle with depression or feelings of worthlessness, your pets remind you that you are important and you are needed. Other studies show that pet owners tend to have higher self-esteem and a greater sense of self-worth than people without pets.
Taking your dog for walks (or to the dog park) is also a sure way to meet new people and make new friends.
Pets and Mental Health Go Hand-in-Paw
Pets do more than make us feel superficially happy. As we discussed above, there’s a connection between pets and mental health that’s impossible to argue.
So what are you waiting for? Give your mental health a boost (and have plenty of fun too) by bringing home a furry family member today!
Did you enjoy this article? Keep browsing our site for more great reads.