mental health

Pets and mental health – Benefits of having pets

Pets and mental health have been closely associated for a long time now. The love that pets shower on us humans cannot be ever described in words. Be it a dog wagging its tail or the sweet purring of a cat or even the chirping of the birds, pets are the source of pure happiness.

Writing this piece reminds me of Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory. Whenever he used to get ill, his mother and friends sang this long. ‘Soft kitty, warm kitty’ – I love this song so much more because aren’t kitties the little fur of happiness!!

pets and mental health

You would have already guessed it quite right by now, I am totally fond of cats and my Instagram stories are full of cute, funny kitties. This was the sole reason I thought of writing the post on how pets can affect our mental health.

Pets and human connection is undeniable and it’s already proven by studies that pets can actually boost mood and help with anxiety & stress.

According to a 2015 Harris poll, 95 percent of pet owners think of their animal as a member of the family. These pets are a pure source of happiness and joy and they indeed have a great impact on our mental health. The bond that we share with our pets has to do a lot with our physical and mental wellness.

We are going to quickly jump up on the benefits of having pets on our mental health.

Just a little note of precaution. If you’re struggling a lot lately with your mental illness and taking care of yourself, please seek professional advice before adopting a pet of your own.

Can animals improve your mental health?

Having a pet can indeed be a great source of love and joy. Most pet owners have experienced this immense sense of unconditional love and companionship with their pets. Sometimes this bond grows even stronger than other human connections.

I loved my little fur baby cat so much more that her loss was totally unbearable. I always felt a sense of comfort and warmth whenever I was around my little fur baby and yes I’m definitely going to adopt another one super soon.

Pets and mental health have always been in the picture though we never quite acknowledged it. Animals can help you lift up your mood, crush the daily stress, and give you an immense sense of joy when they curl up over your lap.

Be it an adult or children or even an elderly, pets always have a great impact on my physical and mental wellness. They teach us so many things and on top of everything, the gift us the blessing of unconditional love. Let’s quickly dive into the amazing benefits of pets on our mental health.

Benefits of having pets on our mental health:

1. The storehouse of unconditional love

Love and only love can save this world.

We, humans, long for love more than anything else in this world. You may say money or luxury but love is what we all need at the end. It takes bravery to spread love and kindness.

Having a pet is the purest source of love that will make you feel accepted the way you’re. When we feel loved and accepted we develop a sense of belongingness which actually improves our mental health. The pet effect can actually help us solve many difficult, stressful life situations too.

2. Help you build a relationship

Having a little fur baby is a kind of commitment that every relationship demands. This just got me reminded of ‘Raj and his pet dog Cinnamon’ from Big Bang. Oh boy!! what an amazing connection they had. Pets can make you realize your responsibilities towards your relations and hence help you nurture them in a loving way.

Building a relationship could be hard especially when you’re an introvert, but having a pet to teach you this could prove super healthy for your mental health. People actually opt for animal-assisted therapy and they have found a huge change in their mental health.

3. Reduce stress and anxiety

Pets can benefit your mental health by reducing stress and anxiety. The researchers have found a great connection between pets and mental health by providing the evidence that pets can actually help to lower your stress.

We, humans, are always stressed for everything and anything. Even the simple activity of watching the fish in the aquarium can help us be mindful and reduce stress.

I love watching cat and dog videos on Instagram whenever life hits hard. This makes me feel relaxed and my mind gets some time to calm down. You can totally imagine if pets on-screen can make you jump with joy, having your own would surely help you feel blessed.

4. Make you feel less lonely

When you’re not feeling happy or even not willing to talk to someone, pets can help you provide a company. Loneliness can at times eat us up and we’re all thrown back into the thoughts of being worthless. This has a huge impact on our mental health. While having a pet can assure you of a loving, loyal companionship which will always help you feel less lonely.

You can always cuddle with your pet or play some running games, these amazing souls will always be there for you, no matter what. This feeling is indescribable and further evidence of pets improving your mental health. If you have a pet, you’re never alone and you always have a sense of responsibility.

5. Teach you empathy and compassion

Pets can literally feel you. Whenever I used to be sad or ill, my cat used to curl up on my bed and sit beside me. She wouldn’t jump or make me do her work. She had this strong sense of empathy and could totally feel that I wasn’t well.

Pets can teach you and even your children to be empathetic and compassionate towards fellow humans. they are utterly selfless and seeing them be so pure, you will naturally develop such virtues.

6. Boosts your mood and brings happiness

How about having a cute fur baby jumping around and cheering you up whenever you feel low and depressed? If you’re an introvert like me, it would be difficult for you to get along with humans. In such difficult times, pets are the pure source of joy and happiness.

Take their funny videos or selfies with yourself, it will surely lift your mood up. Having a pet creates such a huge impact on our mental health, they actually help to boost feel-good hormones.

7. Teaches you to be mindful

Being mindful can actually aid your mental wellness. We have become so restless these days that we have almost forgotten the gift of now. You definitely need to calm down your racing mind and start practicing mindfulness activities. Pets can grab you from your autopilot mode and help you be in the moment and enjoy the joy of being present.

I usually practice journaling as a mindful activity. You can read all about my journaling sessions here.

8. Gives you a sense of purpose

Having a pet requires a proper routine. You need to make sure you’re feeding and taking care of your pet properly. This will help your mental health as it gives purpose to your life.

Many times, we feel depressed and anxious because we have no idea what we are doing with our life. We feel as if there’s no purpose for living. Pets, on the other hand, will keep you busy and give your life a purpose. Thus, pets and mental health are always so inseparable.

9. Helps you stay physically healthy

Besides enhancing our mental wellness, pets can totally help you stay fit and healthy. they always keep you on your toes. If you’re like me who is super lazy when it comes to gyming, pets are your solution. If you have a dog, you need to go for regular walks. Exercise such as walking can help with your mental wellness too.

If you have a fear of social situations or social phobia, a pet can help with slowly introducing you to other people who also have pets and enhance your mental health.

Pets and mental health – Conclusion

Having your own pet is out of this world experience and I’m telling this from my own life events. Whether it’s a dog or a cat or even a bird, these selfless souls will always be there for you, unconditionally. Pets have great impact on our mental and physical wellness, they just come with some little extra care.

The research on pets and mental health have made this clear that pets can help us with our mental health. You can always seek professional advice before adopting your own pet.

I would love to know more about your favorite pets.

Are you a cat or a dog person? Do leave your views in the comments below. I would love to hear back from you.

Also, don’t forget to join our weekly dose of love and light. I love sending helpful emails to my community.

  1. Georgie

    July 15, 2020 at 5:54 pm

    A beautiful post Sonia, and I agree with all of it! This is exactly how I felt with my horses

  2. Jenny

    July 15, 2020 at 6:25 pm

    And confidence building because no one will greet you upon your arrival home like a sweet loyal puppy. They always make you feel like a king. I can’t imagine life without a pet for so many reasons.

  3. Marijke

    July 15, 2020 at 6:34 pm

    This is so relatable and I love all the cat videos too!

  4. Cathy

    July 15, 2020 at 7:23 pm

    I love your article! My son told me that during this crisis if he didn’t have his dog, he may not make it. That’s really powerful, and as his Mom, I am grateful he has his dog to keep him company! Thanks

  5. Summer

    July 15, 2020 at 7:32 pm

    I have four dogs and they are definitely most helpful to my mental health. My autistic son also has so much benefit from them. One of them especially has stepped in as his unofficial therapy dog. She helps calm him when he has meltdowns and even tries to keep them from happening. They are such amazing loving creatures.

  6. Karin

    July 15, 2020 at 7:41 pm

    This is so important and so true! I know that if I had my dog when I was going through my roughest time, things would’ve been different! I love my dog!

  7. Katrina Crandall

    July 15, 2020 at 8:28 pm

    Absolutely agree that pets help with mental health and emotional health. Throughout my life, my dogs have helped relieve stress and anxiety. Their unconditional love always soothes the soul!

  8. Eugenie Lamprecht

    July 15, 2020 at 8:30 pm

    LOVE THIS and 100% agree!! I absolutely love my doggos and cannot imagine a world without them❤️

  9. jimmy clare

    July 15, 2020 at 8:30 pm

    I miss my two dogs who passed away oneind 2018 and in 2019

  10. Carletta Shannon

    July 15, 2020 at 11:24 pm

    I am blessed to have 3 furbabies, 2 amazing cats and a super snuggly dog. They bring so much joy and love to our house. We always have something to talk about because of the fabulously interesting things they do and the love they give can’t be beat.

  11. Brie

    July 16, 2020 at 3:05 am

    This was a great post! I have a dog and he absolutely boosts my mood and keeps me physically healthy. I will always have dogs because I am aware of the positive benefits they bring to my life, such as the ones you mentioned in this post.

  12. Kathleen Wonders

    July 16, 2020 at 4:13 am

    Love this! I used to hate cats before I met my brother’s cat. Now I love them and always find the time to pet and cuddle his cat. And I love the Big Bang Theory references! Haha I sing “Soft kitty” every now and then. Cinammon and Raj were also so funny…kinda weird, but definitely cute. 🙂

  13. Britt K

    July 16, 2020 at 5:14 am

    My pets have been such a HUGE part of my life – I don’t know where I would be without them. Literally. When I was in the worst part of my depression, I had my dogs and cats there to cheer me up and, as you mentioned, give me a sense of purpose. The rest of the world could feel like it was imploding but I knew that I had these 4 furballs at home to give me snuggles – 4 living beings that were relying on me to take care of them, keep them healthy and keep them safe.

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