Creature Comforts

Pets

Everyone’s heard that “dog is man’s best friend.”While this says more about the loyalty of canines, most pet owners enjoy the companionship of their animals, whether it’s a dog, cat, monkey, or even a goldfish! For an animal lover, it’s nearly impossible to stay in a bad mood when those limpid-pool eyes are boring into yours (think wide-eyed Puss from Shrek), or when you fall victim to the soft rubbing of their paws. A goldfish might not offer physical interaction, but even watching and caring for one can help boost your mood. The companionship of a pet also helps ease loneliness, wards off depression, and can be a great way to get some much-needed exercise.

The mood-enhancing benefits of having a pet at home are supported by research, but most pet owners are unaware of the health benefits that come with the experience. So how can pets help you make healthy lifestyle changes, aside from acting as the perfect mood-boosters? Read on to find out!

Pet

  • Take the pressure off- High blood pressure has become a common ailment. While a pill might help keep things stable, having a pet that waits patiently for you to get home can effectively control sudden spikes caused by a hectic lifestyle. Studies have shown that playing with a pet can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, both of which help you relax even in stressful situations, thereby keeping blood pressure at a healthy level.
  • Get up and get out- Whether or not your dog needs a walk more than you do, getting outdoors with a pet is enjoyable even if you live in an urban setting. Frolicking with your kitten in the garden or taking your pup out for a long walk are great ways to avoid being sedentary and get some healthy exercise.
  • Boost your system- Research has shown that having a pet at home means missing fewer days at school or work due to illness. Exposure to infections (which most pets carry) helps boost immunity levels. Studies have also proven that children growing up in a home with a pet have a lower risk of allergies when compared to non-pet owners.
    Pet
  • In good company- When you’re low and in need of some comfort, a pet can offer the best type of companionship - unconditional love. The silent understanding helps, and so does the snuggling. Caring for your pet, looking after his needs, and the silent connect you share can help rid you of depression. Pets can be the best antidote for when you’re feeling low. Providing constant camaraderie, pets can ward off loneliness.   
  • Meet and greet- Owning a pet is a great way to meet new people. Whether you’re walking your dog in the neighbourhood park or stopping at a pet store to pick up some treats for your furry friend, pet owners frequently stop to talk to each other. Who knows, you might even wind up with a date for the weekend!
    Pet
  • Melt away that stress- When you’re under a great deal of stress, the best way to get over it is to talk to someone. Retail therapy or a tub of double chocolate chip ice cream also helps. But when you want to get it all out, what you need is a good listener. Who better than your pet to play silent agony aunt, listening to it all, even if you keep repeating yourself? Whether you want to shed a few tears or get out all the anger, a pet can be a supportive friend who helps ease away the stress. Through touch, pets can also provide sensory stress relief. The next time you’ve had a rough day, you might want to just hold your pet before venting your anger elsewhere. Even watching your fish swim can help reduce muscle tension and lower your pulse.

Keeping an animal at home comes with its share of additional work, and the responsibilities that go with caring for them are no easy chore. But the companionship and other benefits they offer will no doubt leave you in a tail-wagging good mood!     

- Pallavi