Feeling lonely or hopeless? Do you have a health disorder? Consider a furry friend.
Pets calm us and raise our moods. It only takes a few minutes with a dog or cat to feel less anxious. Our levels of cortisol, a hormone associates with stress, lower as we stroke animals. The production of serotonin, a chemical associated with well-being, is increased.
Does high blood pressure or cholesterol run in your family? You still need to watch your weight and exercise, but it has been proven that pet owners have lower blood pressure and cholesterol than those who don’t have pets. Pet owners are also less likely to die of a heart attack.
People who own dogs tend to be more physically active and less obese than people who don’t. Taking your dog for a daily 30-minute walk will keep you moving and ensure that you meet the minimum recommendations for healthy physical activity. Your dog will be so excited for the walk that you’ll get excited too!
Cat owners are less likely to have strokes. Not only are cats more calming than dogs, but it is also possible that cat owners are more invested in their pets and therefore have less time to be anxious.
Pet owners tend to want to talk to other pet owners. A dog is a conversation waiting to happen. Head to the dog park and chat with the other dog owners—you never know, you might make a new friend or even form a love connection.
Researchers have found that children who grow up in homes with pets are less likely to develop allergies. Children with pets also have stronger immune systems. Kids who grow up in houses with cats are less likely to develop asthma as they get older.
Some dogs can alert their owners to dangerous drops in blood sugar before they happen. The alarm gives the owner time to eat a snack and avoid the emergency.
The responsibility and attention of caring for a pet is very good for children with ADHD, and the time spent playing with the animal is a great way for the children to release energy and sleep through the night.
Therapy dogs can be very good for individuals and couples in counseling. Come visit us at Forward Counseling and meet our own sweet dog, Lily! As Bernard Williams says, “There’s no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.”
Written by Catherine Clubb-Brown, Forward Conseling Intern