Spend five minutes on my website and you’ll notice I am obsessed with my dogs. This (insert holiday here) you should absolutely ask for a pet, preferably one with fur. I’ll explain why later.
Pets are amazing for your mental health. They offer so many benefits including keeping you accountable and giving you something to love. Just looking at or petting an animal can cause a rush of happy hormones. If you’ve ever spent a few minutes, or maybe your entire day, looking at pictures of cute animals online you know the feeling I am taking about. Research indicates that having a pet helps with a variety of mental health conditions, along with a host of other benefits like:
- Pets are an excellent addition for anyone suffering from depression or anxiety. Studies show that dog owners are less likely to suffer from depression than those without pets.
- People with dogs also have lower blood pressure in stressful situations than people without pets. Petting a cat or a dog, especially during a stressful situation, can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine and allows the individual to relax. (This is why I prefer animals with fur, but if petting a turtle is your thing be my guest! I’m just not sure of the research here.)
- Having an animal provides people with a sense of companionship and creates a loving bond. This leads to less loneliness and a greater sense of purpose.
- Pet owners have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels (indicators of heart disease)
- Caring for animals can help increase exercise and help you meet new people. Dog parks are an awesome way to be more social.
- Having a pet adds structure and routine to your day. You have to feed the animal and likely take it outside/provide it with exercise. This type of commitment is great for individuals prone to depression.
- Pets are really cute!
There are so many amazing reasons to get a pet. I highly recommend any of my clients with anxiety or depression, who have the means and ability, get a pet! But, really think this over before making a commitment. Spending time volunteering with animals is a great way to get some of the benefits without the added cost or responsibility of caring for a pet.
If you really want to take the plunge, tell your significant other your therapist says you need a dog.
Want to discuss if getting a pet will help with your anxiety or depression? Let’s talk!