How Your Furry Friend Can Benefit Your Brain
Pet owners can quickly tell you the joy they get from coming home to a wagging tail and a pup running up to greet them. Or the feeling of relaxation that comes from a purring cat. It may seem obvious why our furry friends bring us happiness, but many are unaware of how the bond we form with our pets actually benefits our mental health and positively changes our brains.
Your Brain From a Human-Animal Bond
Research shows that our pets help to maintain a regular heart rate, lower blood pressure, and increase feel-good hormones which help to regulate your mental well-being. Having a pet helps us to feel like we are not alone, and they are even known to help calm us down simply by their presence. In turn, this may help to lower the levels and effects of depression.
Pets help to lower feelings of stress and anxiety
The relaxation you feel when interacting with your pet isn’t all in your head — it’s in your brain! Studies have shown that this interaction does act as a sensory stress relief by decreasing the stress hormone known as cortisol. As well, the companionship and love that you receive from your furry friend helps to subside feelings of anxiety and ground you at the moment.
Adding Structure to Your Daily Life
Through hard times, it can be difficult to manage everyday life, or you may fall into unproductive habits. However, having a pet that you love and care for can add that structure and routine to your daily life to increase productivity. Furthermore, they give you a reason to get out of bed each day. Your pet relies on you for food, cleanliness, and love; this helps to provide us with purpose.
They Encourage Us to Exercise More
If increasing your physical activity and spending more time outside is something you desire, then a dog might be just the help you need! Exercise and spending time outdoors have been known to significantly benefit our mental health in a variety of ways, but it can be difficult to prioritize these things in everyday life. Thankfully, they come as a side effect of taking care of our pets. Giving your animal their needs for physical activity allows you to sneak some in as well!
That being said, pets can also be a big responsibility and may not be suitable for everyone due to a range of factors. However, there are always opportunities available for one to experience the benefits of pets! Hypoallergenic pets can help if you have allergies, fostering a pet temporarily is always an option, or even just popping down to a local animal shelter to spend some time with the animals there whenever you need it. Who knew you could practice mindfulness just by hanging out with your furry friend! Their being totally adorable is just a bonus.
HABRI. (2020, May 18). The Human-Animal Bond for Mental Health. https://habri.org/blog/the-human-animal-bond-for-mental-health/
Marie, S. (2022, April 15). 10 Mental Health Benefits of Pets. PsychCentral. https://psychcentral.com/health/pets-and-mental-health#next-steps
Mental Health Foundation. (2022, February 15). Pets and mental health. https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/explore-mental-health/a-z-topics/pets-and-mental-health
Ontario SPCA and Humane Society. (2018, January 18). Benefits of pets for our mental health. https://ontariospca.ca/blog/benefits-of-pets-for-our-mental-health/
Robinson, L., Lundgren, K., and Segal, R. (n.d.). The Health and Mood-Boosting Benefits of Pets. HelpGuide. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/mood-boosting-power-of-dogs.htm
Wein, H. (2018, February). The Power of Pets. News in Health. https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2018/02/power-pets
Written by Regan Christensen for Tea Time Therapy