5 Ways Pets Can Improve Your Mental Health
Pets bring joy to our lives in so many ways – their love, their warmth and their presence are all little blessings we wake up to and come home to every day. It’s no wonder then that they’re proven to be good for our mental health. But how exactly do they help with our wellbeing?
Here we reveal just some of the ways pets can improve our mental health…
1. Cats’ purrs are actually healing
Cats purr between twenty to one hundred and forty hertz, which is proven to have many healing benefits for both the human body and mind.
Holding a purring cat lowers stress, promotes bone healing, lowers blood pressure and reduces the risk of heart attack. Cats have been observed spending time with their unwell owners during their times of great sadness and distress, sharing their natural healing energies for nothing more than a little love in return.
2. Dogs can sense and react to human emotions
Dogs are really good at reading human body language – for example, when we’re nervous, our dogs stick close and are a little more defensive of us than they normally are. Similarly, when we’re feeling down they snuggle up close for a cuddle – boosting our mood and making us feel better.
When dogs make eye contact with their human family they’re engaging in the same chemical process newborn babies and their mothers go through – an exchange of oxytocin. Oxytocin is one of the brain’s “feel-good” chemicals that bond babies to their mothers and dogs to their owners while promoting feelings of happiness and contentment. When your dog stares at you they really are trying to tell you just how much they love you.
3. Exercise with dogs and cats is a great way to get out and about
One frequent piece of advice doctors give to depressed patients is to take more exercise. Owning a pet may make you more active than you think – be it walking your dog, going to the store to buy food, or taking your pet to the groomer – their existence is encouraging you to leave your house, spend time outdoors and interact with other people.
Both dogs and cats can be walked on leashes, giving them the opportunity to explore, sniff and interact with other animals, and you the chance to spend time with them doing one of the things they most enjoy – so it’s hard for the happiness not to rub off on you!
4. Pets can prevent loneliness in later life
As we age, some of us find ourselves becoming more and more isolated. No one wants to be alone, and a pet can be a way to access that companionship all of us need and deserve.
Different pets require different levels of care, so there is almost certainly one animal that can serve as a companion that can thrive with the level of care you can provide it – from relatively low-effort creatures like mice and lizards to higher-effort pets like dogs, there’s something for everyone and what they can manage.
Caring for another living being can be very healing, and just knowing that you aren’t alone can be a huge help to a lonely mind.
5. Pets have a sixth sense for caring for those with autism
Children and adults with autism often experience issues that non-autistic people find difficult to understand. Some animals seem to have a sixth sense for caring for people with different needs in all kinds of situations, be it at home, in the classroom or out and about.
Pets can be companions to both autistic children and adults who have difficulty socializing with other people, and a pet can give a person the confidence they need to form social bonds with their peers. This is especially important in children who can feel very isolated and an animal companion can go a long way in bridging the gap between the child and their non-autistic classmates.
Different kinds of animals with different kinds of coats, skins and shells can provide different tactile sensations to people with sensory difficulties – and this can help stimulate the mind and provide opportunities for social interaction. Animals can also be useful in teaching children, autistic or not, about emotions and how they affect themselves and others. From companions to teaching tools, pets can be fantastic for people with autism.
About the Author, Emma Williams from Pet Bucket
PetBucket is a trusted online retailer selling tick, flea and worming treatments for dogs and cats.