Whether you have a cat, dog, or some other type of pet, owning a pet can be good for your health. In fact, there are several scientifically proven benefits to having a pet!
For starters, pets can help lower stress levels. Just petting a dog or cat can lower cortisol and oxytocin, which can help you feel calmer.
1. Reduces Stress
Studies have shown that having a pet lowers stress and improves heart health. The American Heart Association reports that most cat and dog owners rely on their pets to help them cope with stress and stay active.
Animals have been shown to reduce stress by lowering cortisol levels, which is a hormone associated with pressure and anxiety. They also boost the brain’s production of oxytocin, which is the bonding hormone that promotes social interaction and emotional well-being.
Animals are also helpful for people recovering from mental illness. A new meta-analysis of 17 academic papers found that dogs, cats, hamsters, and other animals helped participants to cope with their condition and distract them from their symptoms.
2. Reduces Loneliness
One of the best things about having a pet is that it can reduce feelings of loneliness. When you come home to a wagging tail and damp nose, it can feel like a whole world has opened up.
When you have a dog or cat, you can talk to them about your problems, and they won’t judge you. They can also help you with anxiety attacks by jumping into your lap and giving you a hug.
In addition, studies have shown that pet owners are more likely to have social contact with others than people who don’t own a pet. This is because pets are devoted to their owners and provide companionship.
3. Increases Self-Esteem
Several studies have shown that owning a pet can increase self-esteem and confidence in both children and adults. This is because pets can be perceived as a form of social support and empathetic companion, which helps people feel more secure.
A study from the journal Anthrozoos suggests that talking to your pet or giving them a human-like name can also help you overcome social rejection. In the study, 96 undergraduates were asked to think about a time they felt excluded and then to name an animal or a friend with humanlike qualities.
When comparing the total sample, cat owners reported marginally lower self-esteem than individuals without pets (b = -0.03, p
4. Increases Mood
Pets provide companionship and a sense of security. They can sense when you’re feeling down and offer comfort.
They can also help you focus on the present. They don’t worry about the past or future, so they can be a great reminder to slow down and enjoy your life.
Having a pet also means having to care for it and set up healthy routines, which can be good for mental health and wellbeing. This is especially important if you are struggling with anxiety or depression.
5. Reduces Anxiety
Many people suffer from anxiety, and it can be hard to deal with at times. Even the smallest thing can be overwhelming for some.
However, having a pet can reduce anxiety by helping you focus on the present. It’s easy to get caught up in the past or worry about the future, but pets can help you stay in the present and enjoy the moment.
Another way that having a pet can reduce anxiety is by encouraging you to be active. Dogs, for instance, require you to walk them, so it’s a good idea to make sure you’re getting outside as much as possible.
Pets can also be great ice breakers when meeting new people and they’re often willing to be the center of attention. This makes them a great social lubricant and can make conversations much easier for those with anxiety.