As an Abington pet sitter, when people ask me if pets can really help reduce stress, I say absolutely! That is not just my opinion as research suggests that there are health benefits to owning pets. Studies have shown that people who own pets have lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol levels than people who do not own pets. One study even found that heart attack patients who owned pets survived longer than those who didn’t. Why is this so?
We have a basic human need for touch. When we pet our furry friends, it elevates our levels of serotonin and dopamine which calm and relax us. When we are relaxed, our nervous system goes into a parasympathetic state. Our heart rate decreases and our breathing slows. Therapy dogs are showing up more and more in healthcare settings due to these positive effects. Pets can also be quite humorous and we all know that laughter is good medicine.
I’ve also read that there is a lower rate of depression in people who own dogs. This may have to do with the increased levels of serotonin and dopamine, but perhaps the strong emotional bond that can develop between us and our pets is also a factor. This bonding provides us with love and affection. Pets add structure and routine to our day which could be a “reason to get up in the morning” when you otherwise might not feel like it. People often talk to their pets as well. Talking about our problems and our feelings to our pets, who love and do not judge us, and who can’t talk back, can be very healing.
Pets can help with social connections, too. Interacting with your pet can combat loneliness. Pets encourage exercise and playfulness which can get us out in the world to meet other pet owners. They can be a topic of conversation for someone who is shy or has difficulty with social interactions. Owning a pet also opens up so many opportunities to connect with other pet owners online which can be especially important for those who are not able to get out.
If you are a pet owner, take a moment to hug your dog, pet your cat, or cuddle with your guinea pig. It will do you a world of good, and they will love it, too! It is no wonder why I love my job as a pet sitter! If you need pet sitting or dog walking services, we welcome your call at 610-716-7166. You can also book online at www.dawnthepetnanny.org and “like” us on facebook at www.facebook.com/dawnthepetnanny.