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The Correlation Between Pets and your Mental Health

We all know that dogs can make you smile, but did you know that owning a pet can have serious benefits for your mental and physical health? Studies have shown that owning a pet makes you happier, and they can keep you away from nasty bugs and diseases, so go ahead and cuddle your furry pal! Here’s the correlation between owning a pet and good mental health.

Friends With Benefits

Your pet is more than just a buddy who doesn’t speak your language and shares a home with you, they’re a friend. After you come home from a long day, they’re the first to greet you. As most friends do, your pet will listen to your problems, issues and happy days, without judgement and criticism. A real friend; they will keep you company and keep you feeling wanted and safe, even if no one else is. This emotional bond you share with your pet can release oxytocin (the love hormone) and endorphins (a bunch of hormones that make you a happy camper), which overall makes your perception of life better, improving your mental health. If you go outside and you see your pet chilling in their house, give them a cuddle; you’ll feel better.

Happiness Is Dog Shaped

So are you a dog person, or a cat person? An age-old question that has often torn relationships apart, and caused wars. Okay, maybe not; but it is a huge debate between pet lovers, that often creates heated discussions. Recent studies have shown that although cat lovers may be calmer, more introverted and quieter, dog lovers tend to be happier and more satisfied with life in general. If you don’t believe me, Sharon Moore from Petcarers has some scientific reasons why dog owners are happier than cat owners:

  • Dog owners are less likely to suffer from depression than those without pets.
  • People with dogs have lower blood pressure in stressful situations than those without pets. One study even found that when people with borderline hypertension adopted dogs from a shelter, their blood pressure declined significantly within five months.
  • Playing with a dog or cat can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, which calm and relax.
  • Pet owners have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels (indicators of heart disease) than those without pets.
  • Heart attack patients with dogs survive longer than those without.

Pets Can Feel The Love Too

Did you know what pets release oxytocin when they see their owner? The love hormone is produced in extremely high levels in dogs when they see their owners, cats…not so much. However, cats do produce oxytocin when they are in contact with their owner, which is surprising, as they are infamous for being less loving pets. If your furry pal is sitting in their bed, go over and give them a cuddle. It will make you both happy. Hugs produce oxytocin in your blood, keeping you happy and maintaining positive mental health. Tim Norris from Both Ends Of The Lead, explains how pets can help you feel the love. “Caring for a dog gives us something to put our love and positivity into, and helps navigate lives struggles and challenges and helps us become less self-absorbed and focused on our own issues. This can only make us a better person. By opening our heart to caring for a dog, we open the possibility to take better care of ourselves and others around us. For some of us, our dogs are our family and give up a sense of purpose and something to live for. They have been shown to help improve our mental and physical health on multiple levels.” Find out more about Both Ends of The Lead by following them on Facebook and Twitter.

Pets Bring Families Together

For those who have pets, you know how much they mean to you. However, did you know that pets can improve your relationship with your family, help you get through tough times and make you more optimistic about whatever life throws at you? Jodie Guerrero, a multiple medical trauma survivor, has the perfect reason why pets can affect you and your health. “Our family has significant illness and disability to contend with on a daily basis. Eight years ago, we decided to adopt a rescue puppy from the RSPCA. He is still with us, a Maltese-Shih Tzu named Bobby. We have also adopted 2 other dogs, one passed away and one has been rehomed. Having Bobby around has been really healing for us, as a family – he provides laughter and love @ our darkest times. We love him dearly, like a son. We know that dogs have a limited lifespan, but we feel we are meant to rescue doggies and will continue to do so. We are considering maybe joining a rescue group and foster caring for rescue doggies, until they find they’re ‘fur-ever’ home.” Follow Jodie’s Journey on Facebook.

Pets can completely change your view on life, improve your mental health and keep your spirits up, even when life throws curve balls your way. It could be a horse, dog or even pet fish; pets are amazing. So what are you waiting for? Go give your fur baby a hug, and if you don’t have a fur baby, go adopt one. They’ll change your life.

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