Little and big fuzzballs (How pets can help you manage stress)

In today’s post I am going to be talking to the animals, wait that came out wrong. In today’s post I am going to be talking about animals, yes that’s what I meant to say, specifically about pets.

Berner sennhund

By No machine-readable author provided. Caronna assumed (based on copyright claims). [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Confession time, I have never actually had a pet, (crying a little); however, when I was a kid my neighbours had a pet dog named Julie and I would go play with her everyday and I remember having a lot of fun with her. Julie even stayed with us for some months when my neighbours were away. Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of her otherwise I would have posted it here. Another animal I played a lot with are cats. When I was in college we had a few cats that would come to our dorm for food and I would sometimes pet them and pick them up and stuff; one of my dorm-mates even adopted a kitten and I would play with it sometimes. I like to think that these experiences with other people’s pets’ means I have some experience with pets myself. Anyway, moving on.

So pets. A lot of people say that having a pet is like having a child, and having a child is stressful by itself so you would think that people wouldn’t want to add to that stress by adding a pet to the mix. But people still have pets; sometimes more than one. I had a friend who had five pets. So it has to make you think that maybe there is something to keeping a pet around the house. Well, wonder no more because I am going to tell you just that.

I already told you how much fun it was playing with my neighbours’ dog and I’m pretty sure that people who own pets or used to own pets can attest the fun factor of it, but what about stress management?

Ladies and gentleman, I give you exhibit A: this is an article from titled, “The health benefits of dogs (and cats).

This is a very detailed and long article which explains how having a pet (dogs in particular) is good for your mental and physical health. For the sake of this post I’ll summarise it by mentioning some of the main topics they talk about and the points they mention.

How do dogs improve mood and health?

  • People who own dogs are less likely to suffer from depression.
  • People with dogs have lower blood pressure in stressful situations.
  • Playing with a dog or cat raises your serotonin and dopamine
  • Pet owners have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels.
  • Heart attack patients with dogs tent to survive longer.
  • Pet owners over age 65 make fewer visits to their doctors.

How can dogs help you make healthy lifestyle changes?

  • Increasing exercise.
  • Providing companionship.
  • Helping you meet new people.
  • Reducing anxiety.
  • Adding structure and routine to your day.
  • Providing sensory stress relief.

Dogs and the health benefits for older adults

  • Helping you find meaning and joy in life.
  • Staying connected.
  • Boosting vitality.

Dogs and the health benefits for children

  • Dogs give unconditional love; they are not critical nor do they give orders like parents or teachers. Having an ever loving dog is a great stress reliever.
  • Having a constant and loving companion is makes a child feel important and helps them create a positive self-image.
  • Kids who are emotionally attached to their pets tend to build better relationships with others.
  • Dogs can help calm hyperactive or overly aggressive kids.

The article then continues to talk about how you should treat your dog, how to find a dog that is right for you and so on.

And now, exhibit B. This article is from, titled, “Pets for Depression and Health” and is written by Kathleen Dohan.

This is a shorter article that also talks about pets and how they are good for you. They discuss how you should carefully consider if a pet is right for you, especially if you are depressed. The whole point is to help depression, not make it worse. Check the article out for yourself.

So we have two articles which prove that having a pet can indeed help you manage stress and anxiety better and can even help against depression. But there are exceptions to every rule, you might be, or live with someone who is allergic to certain animals in which case you will need to choose your pet carefully; you made not be able to afford a pet; or maybe you’re not an animal person. If you are any of these things then your choice of a pet may be limited and hence this method of stress relief may not be for you. But don’t worry there are many other ways to de-stress, and for those of you who can get a pet but don’t have one, well consider getting one if you can.

If for some reason you want a pet but can’t get one then you can try these options:

  • Play with your neighbours pet (if they let you)
  • Become a volunteer at an animal shelter

Well that’s the end of this post. Hope you liked it; if you did, let me know and let a pet know too. How are you going to do that? Go and pet an animal, go on, go and do it right now! Go ahead this post isn’t going anywhere. Until next time then, bye!

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