7 Mental Health Benefits of Having Pets

As if you didn’t love your pet enough! Did you know that having a pet is actually good for your health?

Not only do they benefit your cardiovascular system, but they also have a few mental health benefits too! From emotional support animals to ordinary pets at home, our fur friends (and other pets) help us live a better life.

As someone who’s struggled with mental illness and someone who has owned a whole lot of pets, I can personally tell you that having a fur baby is exactly what I needed. In fact, I really don’t know where I’d be if it weren’t for my fur babies.

Keep reading to learn seven ways having a pet can benefit your mental health.

1. They Give You A Sense of Purpose

Being responsible for another life, even if it isn’t human, is a big deal. In my opinion, it’s a big commitment.

Your pet depends on you to survive, for food, exercise, and social interaction. This responsibility presents a sense of purpose in your life.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a pet. Throughout my twenty-something years, I’ve had dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, and a horse. That’s a full spectrum if you ask me. Each one of these pets taught me something different, but they all gave me a reason to get up and do my chores every day; because no one else would.

If I didn’t take care of my pets properly, my parents would have given them away to god knows who. That thought alone was enough to get me motivated to keep up with taking care of all my pets.

2. Pets Prevent Loneliness

When there’s no one else there, your pets will be. When you’re sad, when you’re sick, and even on your worst days, your pet is still there for you.

I remember when my dad passed, I felt all alone and rather lost in this world. While it’s a void that can’t be filled, my animals have done an amazing job at keeping me company when I feel alone.

If the loneliness of mental illness starts to creep up, your pets provide companionship that you’re craving, as well as a great ear to lend. You can vent for hours and they won’t tell a soul!

3. Motivation To Get Active

Pets have a funny way of motivating us to do things, even if we don’t want to. Your pup might bring you his leash to remind you that a nice walk would be good for both of you.

Cats, on the other hand, have a different way of getting your attention, but it’s still pretty effective!

Every day, whether I like it or not, I have to get up to let my cat out, the dogs need to be walked, and my horse needs to be exercised. Not only is it good for them, but it’s also good for me too! And of course, it’s good for you!

Whether it’s getting out to walk your dog or being “summoned” of bed to feed your cat, your pets are good at helping to motivate you to get up and get moving.

4. Lessens Anxiety, Provides Security

Support Animals are a prime example of how animals can reduce stress and anxiety, especially those with social and emotional issues. In a public setting, these animals provide security to their handlers.

When my parents started leaving me home alone, my number one comfort was having my dog to protect me. If anyone was at the door, or even in the driveway, I knew they were there before they knew I was home. That was a great sense of security to a young girl with anxiety.

At home, especially if you live alone, your pet can help you to feel more secure just with their presence. Dogs are “guardians” of their humans and want to protect them. If that doesn’t say safe, I don’t know what does.

5. Daily Structure

Animals are pretty much all creatures of habit. If you’ve noticed, you’re pet probably has a routine of their very own. They like to eat, sleep, and play at certain times during the day.

For example, my animals are all fed at the same time every day, let out at the same time, and let in at the same time. This helps keep both of us on a healthy schedule and, if I forget, I’ll always be reminded by them waiting for me.

Routines can be beneficial to both you and your pet. It provides a daily structure for you and your pet, which is beneficial for your respective mental health.

6. Meeting People

Of course, there are dog parks that you’ll meet other dog owners, or maybe meeting someone while walking your dog. Dogs love to go up and sniff strangers, which can help you strike up a conversation.

People with the same pets, or even just animal lovers in general tend to get along. Even cat people can become best friends from bonding over their mutual love for their kitties!

My horse has been a conversation starter since the day I got her. Not to brag, but she’s a pretty dang good-looking horse. Even non-horse people compliment her. Not that I can take credit for her breeding, but it’s still a bit of a confidence boost.

7. Peace and Quiet

At the end of the day, my favorite thing to do is cuddle up on the couch with my cat and my bunny to watch a good movie.

When you’re sitting on the couch with your pet, just calmly petting their fur.

Petting your dog or cat can even provide a sensory release in the brain, which naturally releases dopamine, the “happy chemical”.

The unconditional love, unwavering loyalty. Pets are walking angels among us. From man's best friend to service animals, we can all agree that having pets can be a great benefit in anyone’s life.

While you may not struggle with mental illness, it’s always a good idea to keep your mental health in mind, and now you know how your pets can help you with that!

How do your pets benefit your mental health?

Until Next Time xoxo

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Ontario, Canada