Owning a pet can bring so much affection and fun into your life. Many people are aware of the fun and laughter that come with owning a pet. But did you realize that your pet actually improves your mental health?
Especially dogs can reduce anxiety and their presence relieves stress. Their ability to sense your emotions helps uplift you when you’re lonely and even lowers depression. Being responsible for a dog encourages physical exercise and brings a sense of fun.
Children who grow up around animals are generally more confident and active. Dogs are especially valuable companions for the retired and elderly.
Above all a dog can bring you some unconditional love that may be missing from your life on a day to day basis.
Ways in Which a Dog Can Increase Mental Well Being
Dogs are keenly attuned to human emotions and behavior. Your dog interprets your body language and tone of voice. Like that amazing long term friend, your dog will gaze into your eyes to discover your mental state and will try to understand where you are emotionally.
Most people realize that there are benefits to having a dog, but many do not realize that beyond the joy of interacting with a lovable ball of fur, there are numerous mental and physical benefits to such a relationship.
Finally Scientific Studies Explore the Canine-Human Bond and Its Benefits
The American Heart Association links pet ownership with longevity in general and decreased heart disease risk in particular.
- During play with a cat or dog dopamine and serotonin levels often rise. This relaxes the person and calms them down. Some people experience an increased dopamine and endorphins output after being with dog for just 15 minutes. Dopamine is involved in movement motivation. It is the reward and addiction to pleasure hormone.
- Researchers have found even bringing your dog to work with you can improve your day by reducing stress. Beta endorphin is the body’s natural substance and has morphine like actions.
- When you pet your dog it can raise level of the “feel-good hormone” (oxytocin) and decrease cortisol in the brain. Another powerful hormone is Oxytocin. Whenever we kiss or hug our loved ones, oxytocin levels rise. Oxytocin’s also stimulated during breastfeeding, sex, and even birth. Oxytocin levels were measured in urine prior to and after interaction with dogs. It was discovered that the owners had a 300% increase of oxytocin, while the dog urine showed a rise in oxytocin of a 30% after being with the owner. This lab work suggests that interactions between humans and dogs illicit a similar type of reaction like the oxytocin-induced positive feedback loop usually seen between a mother and her infant.
- Depression is less common among pet owners.
- Blood pressure levels during stressful encounters are known to be lower for people with dogs. There is anecdotal evidence where people with borderline hypertension adopted dogs from shelters, and their blood pressure declined significantly over a period of several months.
- Cholesterol and Triglyceride levels were also found to be lower in dog owners.
- Persons aged over 65 who own a pet visit their physician far less often than someone who doesn’t have a pet.
- There’s an increased survival rate for heart attack patients when they own a dog. The Prolactin hormone, which produces milk in mothers and assists reproductive health in men and women, increases longevity by amplifying major neurotransmitter activity. It slows the aging process, and results in higher performance and a rise of general well-being in a rejuvenated youthfully functioning body.