Dogs are often referred to as “man’s best friend” for a reason. The relationship between pets and humans has a rich history, and it’s not just dogs that have created connections. Whether you have a cat, bird, or even a lizard, there are so many benefits of owning a pet like a dog.
When you have a pet, you also have a built-in companion that can help you through tough mental health situations. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, mental illnesses seem to have a reduced presence in men when compared to women. But, it’s believed that’s because more men aren’t getting officially diagnosed or seeking treatment. Having a pet can improve your mental health and may make you confident enough to get the actual treatment you need. From a physical standpoint, owning a pet like a dog can help you with everything from reaching your fitness goals to maintaining your overall well-being.
Simply put, a pet will improve your life by providing constant companionship, support, and love. Whether you’re in a relationship rut, you’re feeling lonely, or your family has been begging you for one for months. It’s the perfect time to consider getting a pet. If you’re still not convinced, let’s dive deeper into some of the mental and physical benefits they provide.
When you commit to taking care of a pet, you have to realize that your life isn’t just about you anymore. Your dog might wake you up at 6:00 am to go outside. Your cat might gently paw at you to be fed. While those things can seem a little annoying at the time. However, they can change your perspective and look at them as motivational tools. Benefits of owning a pet like a dog or a cat from a mental health standpoint. Pets can encourage you to get on track with a daily routine. In the morning, that might include things like:
If you have a dog, you can include exercising them as a part of that routine. Maybe you have trouble getting motivated to work out, even if you know how important it is. Since dogs need anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours of exercise each day, they can motivate you to stay active and get outside each day for a walk or jog. Not only will that improve your physical health, but being outside can boost your mental health and reduce stress, too. Plus, it will keep you from planting yourself on the couch and binge-watching your favorite shows all day, which can do more harm than good to your mental state.
Other huge benefits of having a pet are their therapeutic powers. There’s a reason pets are often used in different therapy settings. Therapy animals can be found in hospitals, nursing homes, prisons, and even disaster areas. The most common types of animals used in therapy settings include:
Animal therapy is so effective because pets naturally provide comfort and spread joy. Something as simple as petting a dog or holding a cat in your lap can reduce stress and make you feel less anxious. Pet therapy has also been shown to improve energy levels, self-esteem, and mood. From a physical standpoint, it can help with illness or injury recovery. Animal therapy is used to improve motor skills and coordination and give patients a more positive outlook as they recover.
You might not necessarily use your pet for therapy, but you’ll notice every day how much they can calm you down or help you to de-stress. If you do struggle with symptoms of depression or anxiety, having a pet can bring you comfort and help you to better manage those symptoms daily. The simple purr of a cat or the loving eyes of a dog looking back up at you can provide instant relief for whatever troubles you might be dealing with.
Remember, however, that for as much as your pets take care of you, it’s just as important to return the favor. Pets can be prone to a variety of health conditions, and you might find yourself at the vet frequently. Investing in pet insurance can help to offset some of those expensive vet bills while ensuring you can keep your companion happy and healthy for years to come.
We already talked about how motivational pets can be. But, they can also help you reach your goals by either fitting into your current active lifestyle or pushing you to do more. The best thing you can do if you have physical health goals is to choose the right type of pet. Most active individuals tend to go for dogs that can keep up with them. Some of the best active dog breeds include:
The great thing about pets and fitness goals is that they can break up the monotony of “typical” workouts. For example, taking your dog hiking is a great way to get out of the gym and explore a new place. You’ll be more inspired to get outside and get off the beaten path with your companion at your side.
You can also try physical activities that are specifically meant for pets and their owners, like Doga (dog yoga) or pet paddleboarding (yes, it’s a thing!). Again, that’s a two-fold benefit. It’s easy to get into a rut with your workout routine, even if you have the best of intentions. When that happens, you’ll lose motivation and might not exercise as much.
Unfortunately, that can trigger a vicious cycle, causing you to lose energy, feel more fatigued, and start to experience symptoms of depression. Finding creative, fun ways to exercise every day will naturally boost your mood. Having a furry friend to help you out along the way makes things even better. Every day can feel completely new, leaving you refreshed and excited to have an adventure with your four-legged friend.
Whether you already own a pet like a dog at home or you’ve been on the fence about getting one, take full advantage of the benefits of having a pet and the impact on your mental and physical health. From fighting back symptoms of mental conditions to helping you get in the best shape of your life, pets are perfect companions that can greatly improve your overall quality of life, no matter your goals.
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