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How Pets Affect Mental Health

It’s finally here! August 26th is International Dog Day. While many pet owners live every day as if it were International Dog Day, this date is when the rest of the world catches up. If you’re a pet owner, you know the vast, positive impact that an animal companion can have on your mental health. To celebrate International Dog Day, we will look at that relationship’s benefits in this post.

How Pets Affect Our Mental Health

Pets can improve our mental health in a variety of ways. According to National Institute of Health, pets can help improve your mental health in two ways. First, they may be able to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.

That’s particularly important these days since about 40 percent of Americans experience work-related stress. If you’re lucky enough to be working from home, your animal coworker is the best way to help you decouple from stress and anxiety with a few little pats, belly rubs, and squishes. Don’t worry; they like it (just don’t squish them too hard).

There’s actually a scientific reason for that. Pets can actually affect our brain on a chemical level. According to experts, petting animals releases a brain chemical called oxytocin (the same chemical our brains release when interacting with infants). Oxytocin triggers warm and calm feelings and helps to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.

Pets can also help keep humans out of depressive states, too. First, a pet demands that its caretaker maintain some semblance of a schedule. This schedule can help people with depression find purpose and force them into a routine. Pets can also offer companionship and love, which help attack depression.

Pets Can Increase Physical Activity

Here’s one benefit of pets that many don’t consider at first. Many of them can help you get more exercise. Experts agree that exercise can ease symptoms of both anxiety and depression. That makes it as impactful to your mental health as any chemical or psychological benefit.

As anyone who’s ever had a puppy will tell you, exercise is critical. That little ball of fur and energy isn’t going to stop bouncing around and making weird noises until you get it some exercise. If you’ve ever been terrorized by a high-energy puppy, you know the best feeling in the world is seeing your little fuzzball wholly passed out.

While it may be exhausting to tire out an animal, it’s also super beneficial for us. Taking a dog on big hikes or backpacking trips is a great way to stay in shape. And taking your furry friend on a run every day or two is also a great way to maintain your physical fitness.

But even the tiny, seemingly insignificant low-impact activities you and your dog partake in can help keep you in shape. According to some experts, taking a dog on 5 walks of 30 minutes per week can help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. Moreover, it can improve your cardiovascular health, lower your blood pressure, and improve your bone and muscle health. And the best part? This is a completely free activity that you can do anywhere – whether you live in an urbanized or rural area.

Make Sure You Have Enough Time for a Pet

Although having a pet provides many benefits, it’s not for everyone. Before you adopt an animal, make sure you have:

  • Have enough time for it: this is probably one of the biggest factors that non-pet owners underestimate. It takes a lot of time to take care of an animal. This goes double for especially young or especially old animals. A puppy or kitten will need more time because they have lots of energy. An older animal may require extra attention because of health issues like arthritis.
  • Enough space for it: this is particularly true for dogs. Dogs require their own space (or space to share with other dogs in their pack). This also includes outdoor space. If you don’t have a yard for your dog, you will need to take it on plenty of walks.
  • Can pay for it: many people don’t realize how expensive a pet can be. And even the smart ones who do have some idea of the cost of a pet will often underestimate the price of caring for an animal. Food, treats, pet care, and VET VISITS can seriously set you back.

I Can’t Have a Pet – How Can I Play with One?

If you looked over that list of requirements and decided that a pet isn’t for you, you have much more self-awareness than others. But it doesn’t mean that you can’t still interact with pets! In fact, there are plenty of pets at your local shelter who would probably love to see you.

Consider volunteering there to make an impact on a homeless animal’s life. Aside from helping the pet, you’ll get some prime-time cuddle sessions. If that seems like a bit of a commitment, you can download pet-sharing apps to help locate pet owners around you who are willing to share their fluffy friends. Maybe you’re feeling those entrepreneurial juices flowing? You can also sign up for a pet-sitting or dog walking service to get paid for your pet time.

CBD: A Pet Owner’s Little Helper

Whether you’re a new or veteran pet owner, you will run into an anxious or hyper pet at some point. And that’s where CBD can help! CBD is a safe and effective way to get a dog to relax and de-stress. It’s perfect for long road trips or even plane rides. And if your furry friend is getting older but wants to stay active, CBD is perfect for soothing joint and muscle pain to keep them young at heart. Want to learn more? Check out all the CBD products we carry at Relive Everyday!

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