Pets and Mental Health

Wherever you are in the world reading this, take a moment and hug your pet. Thank them for being a constant in your life and maybe give them a treat. 

My family has three dogs. We love our dogs so much for a myriad of reasons. Our toy pomeranian Lucy has been a constant companion for me throughout many of my biggest life transitions. From being a teenager, to going off to college, our dog has been a constant source of joy and love for me. 

Whether you’ve been a long time pet owner or just got your first pet this week, here are five reasons why pets are good for your mental health:

  1. Pets ease loneliness – Have you ever come home to an empty house after a long day of work? It can be sad and lonely. Have you ever come home to be met by a happy, sweet, excited and cuddly animal? It’s one of the best feelings in the world.
  1. Pets encourage exercise – Most pets need exercise every day. Do you ever struggle to find the motivation to exercise? Having an animal that needs exercise can be extremely helpful for those of us who are not naturally inclined to exercise.
  1. Pets can alleviate stress – Having a companion at home with you can alleviate symptoms of anxiety and provide feelings of calmness and peace. 
  1. Playing with your pet can increase your brain’s levels of dopamine and serotonin – More of that please! Dopamine and serotonin are neurotransmitters that play a role in how we experience feelings of pleasure, calmness and happiness. 
  1. Help you meet new people – Have you ever been to a dog park and suddenly found yourself chatting with a stranger about their dog? It’s so fun to bond with someone about how much they adore their animal! 

Written by: Brenley Martinez