*This post is sponsored by CertaPet.
How Pets Make Us Happier
If you’re happy and you know it – it may well partly be because of a pet! If you’re not happy and you know it – there is a possibility that a pet may help.
The bond between humans and animals can be very strong, and research has shown there are health benefits for both. But how do they make us happy? It seems the human-animal bond, health, and happiness is all related. Read on!
Animals at Home and Work
The interaction between people and animals is interesting stuff. Historically, how we engage with animals changes over time and place. Dog breeds that were once revered for their ability to ‘work’ are now often highly sought after as family pets.
Cats, with all their special qualities, have been companion animals for thousands of years as well as being a practical method of pest control! Birds, fish, rabbits, horses – the list goes on.
For many people, the pet(s) in their lives are integral, and as much a member of their family, as any other kin. The animals we keep share both our space and our time. Our pets often sleep with us, walk with us, talk with us, and show us about life itself.
Many people include their pets in the gift-giving lists for the holiday season. We document their lives too. Pets are not only included in photos – whether they be selfies for studio portraits – they may well have their own individual sitting! In short, pets are a part of us.
Animals are also recognized for their ability to provide service, therapy, and emotional support. Service animals assist people with physical and psychiatric disabilities, and therapy animals with recovery, rehabilitation, and recreation.
Emotional support animals (ESA) can help people with emotional and psychological conditions.
Science Takes It Seriously
A hot topic over the past few decades has been the effects that companion animals have on human health and emotions.
The results and conclusions from various research and studies are looking good! Indications are that people who enjoy the pleasures of caring for a pet benefit both physically and mentally. This, in turn, helps with flicking your happy switch!
Some of the ways how pets make us happier in our lives include:
Connectedness and Companionship
Whether you’re joined at the leash with your dog, or sing on a daily basis with your canary, there is a sense of being connected with another living being that just can’t be beaten. Pets provide companionship; they can reduce feelings of loneliness.
The connectedness isn’t just with a pet though – although an individual animal can be a form of social support. People with pets as a common ground can help with socially connecting to other people.
This can range from meeting and greeting other people in your neighborhood while you’re out walking your dog, or sharing your growing kitten’s latest antics at the water cooler.
Self-Confidence and Self-Esteem
The love from a pet is unconditional, and the way they gaze into your eyes non-judgmental. Not only that we get a sense of being wanted and important to the life of another in the care we give an animal to meet what they need.
Have you ever had a bad day at work or school and come home to an enthusiastic welcome from your pet? You know the feeling after a day of difficulties you get home to and get a reminder from your little furball that they think you’re okay!
The act of petting and stroking a pet does not only make them purr! In humans, this physical contact and activity affect the way we produce the hormones oxytocin and serotonin in our brains.
Oxytocin is known as the “love hormone.” When you’re brain releases this neurotransmitter, you bond with the other person, or animal, involved. Serotonin is a mood regulator or the “happy hormone.”
Why is it that cats insist on sitting on a keyboard? Maybe it is because they know it increases the odds of getting your touch!
There’s a good reason why there’s a big audience for those viral cute cat videos and dashing dog gifs too. Just watching an image can make us laugh and smile. Seeing your own animal doing quirky, adorable things though is even better for a feel-good factor.
People with pets have been found to have lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. Even watching fish in a tank has the effect of lowering blood pressure, and calming people down.
Remember that next time you’re in your dentist’s waiting room! Lower blood pressure equals a better ability to handle stress and stay happy. For anyone with a dog, there’s a double dose of heart health, in the exercise you get with ensuring they meet their exercise needs. But just having a pet in your presence has a positive effect.
Domesticated animals are reliant on the people they live with. Anyone with a cat or dog in their lives will know well the reminders they receive from their pet that it is their mealtime!
Having a pet in your life, and meeting their basic needs for care, can help bring a sense of order and structure to your daily life. These very practical and purposeful tasks can in turn help with feelings of being valuable, useful and in control.
They are also a distraction – in a good way. For example, people with emotional support dogs find that taking care of a pet and having one around can be a diversion for triggers for a range of conditions.
It is a Two Way Street
These days, there is a focus on the responsibility and commitment involved in having a pet, and rightly so. Bringing a companion animal into your world involves both time and cash.
The health and wellbeing of the animal are just as important as that of the people they live with. Pets make us happy, and we, in turn, should be dedicated to ensuring they lead good lives too.
If you are looking for an ESA, here’s how to ask a doctor for an emotional support animal.