When I’m feeling stressed, sad, or just plain lazy, my dogs come to my rescue. They’re always ready for a cuddle, and then to give me a good shove towards the door for a walk. My two dogs are large, crazy, and they go through mountains of dog food. But even on the days they eat an entire meatloaf off my counter, I love them like they’re my second and third children. And I know I’m not the only incredibly tolerant pet-owner whose mind, body, and soul benefits immeasurably from their furry friend. Here’s a few reasons why…
They get you outside: Even if it’s just to let them out for yet another pee break, stepping out into the fresh air can change your mood instantly. Take a minute to appreciate and engage with nature while you’re out there. It’s amazing how just a minute or two can calm and relax you. Added benefit: if it happens to be sunny you’re getting a good dose of vitamin D, which does wonders for your physical and mental health.
They get you moving: My middle-aged dogs still act like puppies, which means they get a serious walk every day. When I’m feeling extra ambitious I take them for a run. Their need to be active has shaped my own lifestyle, forcing me to get out and move even on the rainiest of days.
Petting reduces stress: I’m not making this up, it’s true! Repetitive and rhythmic petting or grooming comforts your dog or cat, and you. While you’re connecting with your pet, oxytocin, the hormone related to stress and anxiety relief, is released. This helps reduce blood pressure and lower cortisol levels, not to mention your furry friend will have a shinier coat.
You’re never alone: When I say never, I mean never. You may have a buddy every time you go to the bathroom from now on, but your pet’s desire to be close to you is a good thing too. Pets make great companions and can be pretty intuitive. When you’re feeling lonely, they have a way of finding you and being there.
They’re great listeners: Most importantly, they don’t talk back. Tell them how your day was, vent about your problems, share your darkest secrets and your silliest dreams. They won’t judge and they won’t tell a soul.
They love you unconditionally: You are your dog or cat’s whole world. All they want is to hang out with you, play with you, and love you – unconditionally and completely. My dogs don’t care if I made a mistake at work or ruined dinner, they’re happy to see me no matter what. And they’re always happy to help by eating my burnt lasagna.
So, get out there and throw the ball for your dog or cuddle with your cat. Chance are you’ll have just as good a time as they do!