Stress… It’s the thorn in the side of modern Americans, and although we are generally unaware of it, stress may be wreaking havoc on our health. Besides affecting our moods, stress can cause physical changes in the body, such as high blood pressure, weight gain, and other health concerns, and can even shorten our lifespans.

Pet owners have much to be thankful for when it comes to their long-term health. Recent studies have shown that pets reduce stress, possibly leading us toward longer, happier lives overall. The team at Animal Kind Veterinary Hospital couldn’t be more excited about this information, and we are delighted to share it with our readers!

How Pets Reduce Stress

  • The power of touch—Petting a dog or cat not only feels good to him or her, it also stimulates the release of “feel-good” hormones in you, causing your body to relax and your heart rate to go down.
  • Reduction of blood pressure—Studies have shown that simply being in an animal’s presence is enough to lower your blood pressure. Hanging with a dog or cat, watching fish in an aquarium, or even viewing horses through a fence all have the same protective health effects.
  • Better health—Pet owners get more exercise, on average, than non-pet owners. This is especially true for dog owners, who often feel a responsibility to walk their dogs, although they may not be motivated to make it to the gym. Taking care of cats has an element of physicality to it as well, especially if your cat is young and/or energetic.
  • Improved relationships—Loneliness can be a major stressor, but living with a pet can reduce the effects.  Pets provide companionship and also tend to encourage interactions with other people.
  • More laughter—The old saying “laughter is the best medicine” couldn’t be truer when it comes to sharing life with a pet. Anyone who has witnessed the antics of a kitten or puppy, or has chuckled at a dog’s exuberance or cat’s playful antics can attest to the fact that pets are a source of joy.

Staying in the Now

Worry is the fundamental element of stress and is comprised of one of two mental states: concern over the future or concern over the past. Stress often leads us to seek out a distraction, anything to give our minds a break from the ceaseless onslaught of tasks, deadlines, and responsibilities. Enter our phones, laptops, tablets, and other mindless, time-wasting distractions.

Caring for pets and actively engaging with them can help keep us in the present moment, a place where worry and distractions cease to exist. The next time you’re feeling stressed, try one of the following ways to focus on your pet and take your mind off of your worry (just make sure to put down your phone first!):

  • Take a walk or hike with your pet
  • Play an interactive game with your pet, such as Frisbee or feather chase
  • Give your pet a soothing grooming session
  • Take a car ride to explore a new dog park, trail, or pet supply store
  • Sit and stroke your pet
  • Let’s Hear It!

    How do your pets reduce stress in your life? We’d love to hear about it! Post on our Facebook page, along with a photo of your sweet pet, if you’re so inclined. Don’t forget to contact us with any questions or concerns, or to set up an appointment for your pet.