How Pets Help Reduce Stress
Pet ownership is not always easy, but it is always a source of joy. That observation isn’t subjective, either. Multiple studies and surveys have all confirmed one thing: pets improve quality of life, and they help us deal with our daily stresses.
Having a pet acts as a sort of “miracle cure” for stress in multiple ways. Our bonds with our pets affect us biologically, and there is also something about owning a pet that positively affects our lifestyle.
Don’t just take our word for it, though! Here are some observations and well-researched conclusions from throughout the scientific community.
Owning a Pet Can Make You Less at Risk for Stress-Related Diseases
Pet ownership is associated with lower blood pressure and a lower risk of heart disease or stroke.
“Several studies have shown that dog owners have a lower blood pressure than non-owners,” notes Harvard Health, suggesting that these benefits are, “probably because their pets have a calming effect on them and because dog owners tend to get more exercise.”
The publication cites a study showing that dog owners tended to have lower cholesterol and blood triglyceride levels. These differences remained even when the study adjusted for factors like diet and body mass index (BMI).
Dogs aren’t the only animals capable of providing heart-healthy benefits, either. One study uncovered that cat owners had their risk of heart attack or stroke lowered by a third, even if they owned a cat for just some period of time.
Individuals who have suffered heart attacks are also more likely to survive 12 months or longer than those who have not, and that’s according to two studies that took place 15 years apart.
Interacting With Pets Decreases Stress on a Biological Level
We love our pets like our own children, and this bond gets reinforced by hormones that stimulate affection and positive feelings.
The chemical oxytocin is produced by the body during social interactions, especially those involving tender feelings or family relationships. Looking into a dog’s eyes has the effect of producing oxytocin, says Harvard Health, which can explain why dogs are widely regarded as family members first and owned animals second.
A 2019 study that took place at Washington State University found that petting animals can reduce the body’s levels of cortisol, a hormone that stimulates a stress response. Students who were given access to cats and dogs for just 10 minutes had markedly lower amounts of cortisol in salivary samples than those in the control group.
These natural effects are no doubt reinforced by the behaviors or the animals themselves.
“Dogs are very present. If someone is struggling with something, they know how to sit there and be loving,” says NIH physician and researcher Dr. Ann Berger. “Their attention is focused on the person all the time.”
Owning a Pet Can Make You Have a Healthier, Less-Stressful Lifestyle
The positive benefits of owning a pet can come not just how we feel about the pet but also how we act. Pet ownership prompts us to engage in steps to care for the animal. In turn, they help us care for ourselves and incorporate healthy habits into our lifestyle.
For instance, the American Heart Association (AHA) observes that “dog owners are more likely to engage in physical activity than people who don’t own dogs,” as cited in the Post and Courier.
Many people’s pets act as their alarm clock, helping them keep a routine even when their lives are disrupted by, say, a global pandemic. Being strongly encouraged by a pet you love to provide food, affection, or exercise can remind us of our own physical needs when we tend to get lost in thoughts or emotions.
On top of that, engaging in a care routine provides its own psychological benefits.
“Caring for a pet also gives your day purpose and reward, and a sense of achievement,” says the United Kingdom’s Mental Health Foundation. “It also helps you feel valuable and needed.”
Getting Support With Caring for Your Pets Can Make Owning Furry Destressers Even Less Stressful
One of the few ways pets can actually increase our stress is when we worry about their safety and well-being. This is especially common when we have to leave pets at home, leave them behind during a trip, or need to temporarily house the pet for whatever reason.
Finding a reliable pet boarding facility and dog daycare can, therefore, have a huge impact on your relationship with your fuzzy family members. If you don’t have to worry about their safety and well-being, that’s one less negative tic mark in what is a beautifully positive relationship overall.
Let Greenlin Pet Resorts help take pet care off your mind when your life or schedule demands that you spend some time apart. Our highly trained staff has expertise in both medical care and pet behavioral therapy to make sure that your pet’s needs are met all around.
Find out more about how Greenlin Pet Resorts can care for your pet like a member of our own family when you call or visit a location near you.