How Pets Benefit Your Mental Health

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While you’ve heard that dogs are “man’s best friend”, you may not realize the full benefits that can come from living with a pet. Centuries of science have proven that bonding with a pet can help to reduce negative emotions, even when dealing with consistent intense feelings like anxiety, stress, and depression. Having a pet can ease loneliness, encourage you to be more physically active, and promote self-confidence. Animals can give you a sense of security and provide you with comfortable, loving companionship.

The relationship between humans and animals runs far deeper than simply keeping pets because they’re cute. Dogs can understand many words, tone of voice, gestures, and body language. A bond with a pet can prove an invaluable source of companionship, understanding, and relief that can drastically boost your mood and your long-term mental wellness.

Pick a Pet, Any Pet

There are as many kinds of pets as there are types of personalities in people. Beyond popular picks like cats, dogs, and fish, your life can benefit from the introduction of turtles, lizards, rabbits, hamsters, snakes, birds, rats, or any other kind of companion. Caring for animals can reduce muscle tension, lower your pulse rate, and ease your struggles with depression and anxiety. Studies have shown that owning a pet for only five months can help to reduce blood pressure even in people who are on the border of hypertension. There’s a pet out there for just about any living situation, lifestyle, or personal preference you might have.

While you may be familiar with the effects of dopamine on your mood as you receive it from food, relationships, exercise, and substance use, it’s important to note that living with a pet can significantly elevate your dopamine and serotonin levels as well. This is one of the reasons that people over a certain age become more inclined to keep pets as company; in some cases, their pets are part of what’s keeping them alive and well.

Humans Need Touch

Physical touch is a widespread love language and a foundational means of showing affection for people across the globe. One of the many reasons people enjoy having pets is because they can fill the basic human need of touch therapeutically. Simply being able to regularly hold or pet a cute animal can calm and soothe even the most anxious of people. Pets offer a safe avenue for trustworthy, positive touch that can quell some of the social or personal fears that might arise from human touch. From high-profile CEOs to people serving life sentences in prison, having an affectionate relationship with a pet has been shown to create long-term changes in behavior.

Think Outside of the Cage

If you’re considering getting a pet, you’ve got plenty of options. While cats and dogs are popular choices, they may not be for everyone, whether due to allergies, lifestyle restrictions, or personal preference. Despite their former public image as cold and uninteresting, studies indicate that reptiles become attached to their owners. Reptiles recognize the people who care for them, and snakes can even raise their necks to show that they want to be petted. Reptiles can be perfect if you’re allergic to fur or simply prefer a more exotic companion. You’ll certainly never get bored.

If you’re looking for a lower-maintenance pet, a rabbit might suit you. Rabbits can fit in particularly well if you have young children with a lot of energy. Living with a sweet, cuddly rabbit can reduce your stress levels and boost your serotonin regularly. Rabbits have the same fluff as a cat or a dog, and they don’t have to go on walks. Rabbits do require a significant amount of space, so plan accordingly.

The Benefits of Birds

On top of bringing a vibrant infusion of sound, color, and personality into your home, most birds enjoy a long lifespan, making them a quality choice if you don’t want to be constantly bringing home new pets. Numerous birds even outlive their owners, meaning that they’ll be a one-time purchase. You can enjoy a long-term relationship with a bird without worrying about the grief that comes from losing a pet.

Birds are especially well-suited for living with older people. Parrots in particular can encourage social interaction, making them ideal companions for anyone who lives on their own. Parrots can also help keep the mind sharp and active for anyone struggling with Alzheimer’s or dementia. When you communicate with a parrot, you use your pet’s natural abilities to promote healthy cognitive function within yourself.


Having a pet can be highly beneficial for your mental health, and you don’t have to pick a cat or dog to reap the rewards of an animal relationship. There are hundreds of options for pets that can boost your mood and make you feel secure. Living with animals has proven to reduce feelings of depression, stress, and anxiety, boost serotonin and dopamine, and provide you with valuable affection. No matter how you choose to approach it, you don’t have to struggle with depression or anxiety on your own. Kimberly Center in Fort Myers, Florida, can give you the treatment and guidance you need to overcome your obstacles and make the most of your life. With the right help, you can implement positive changes and live the life you want to live. Make your mental health a priority. To learn more about how our services can help you, reach out to us at (855) 452-3683.


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