Taking care of a furry friend is a good way to take care of yourself, too
Pet owners know the benefits of coming home to a welcoming pet every day. You can’t help but smile when you see your critter come towards you, asking for some attention. No matter what else has happened that day, it’s comforting to know they’re there and that they’re always happy to see you.
There are lots of reasons pets are good for us, including for our mental and emotional health. Here are just some of the ways your family can benefit from a furry addition to the household.
1. They bring you joy
There’s a neurochemical, called oxytocin, that causes joyful feelings when it’s released in our brains. This release has been shown to happen when you look at a dog or cat that serves as your companion.
2. They relieve stress
When you look at your pet, you may notice you feel calmer. This happens partly because seeing your pet reduces the levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
3. They help with depression
Pet owners tend to have a better sense of general well-being than people who don’t have pets. These animals provide us with a certain level of social support and connectedness. Dogs especially require the kind of attention that can benefit people with depression, because the pet provides something positive to focus on. This can go a long way in replacing negative thoughts. And when you pay attention to your dog, you get a lot of love and acceptance in return. This can help us to feel we belong and that our lives are more meaningful.
4. They improve your self-esteem
One of the lovely aspects of pets is they don’t harbor any judgments about what you do, how you look, or how successful you are. The only thing they ask is that you spend time with them—and it’s nice to make someone’s day just by being in the same room! This unconditional love can have a positive impact on your self-esteem.
5. They help your family to bond
Pets are good for the entire family. They require that the household comes together to make decisions together about how to care for the critter. Walking a dog as a family is a great way to spend time together without stress or any agenda. For members of the family who don’t always get along, or who have a hard time connecting, a pet can serve as a “great communicator”—giving those individuals something in common. Pets also provide an excellent opportunity for parents and older generations to teach children the value of caretaking, kindness, consistency, and responsibility—the cornerstone of good pet ownership.
If you’ve been considering adopting a pet, think about going to a local shelter. There are thousands of cats and dogs waiting for a home and a family to love. If you have long workdays, maybe a cat is a better choice, since they’re less demanding of your time. If you’re high-energy and live an active lifestyle, then a younger, energetic dog might be a good choice, to accompany you on all of your outdoor adventures. Choosing a suitable pet will help you set yourself up for maximum enjoyment and minimal stress. Consult the pet owners in your life for advice on what might be the best fit for you. And then enjoy the new member of your household!
This article is part of the Salter School’s weekly blog. We’re dedicated to the health and well being of all our students. Reach out to us for more information about the range of professional training programs we offer at our two campuses in Malden and Fall River, MA.