These days stress seems to affect us all, and it can affect us physically by increasing our blood pressure or giving us headaches, for example. But very often it takes other psychological forms like fearfulness, apathy, self-doubt, and emptiness. Some people feel lonely, isolated and vulnerable.
Tests have shown that owning a pet can help people attain a better level of physical health. Petting your animal, be it dog, cat, rabbit or ferret, can lower your heart rate and your blood pressure and even promote healing. So can riding your horse or watching fish in an aquarium. In fact, many doctors keep aquariums in their waiting rooms to help lower anxiety levels of patients waiting to be examined. Also, recent studies show that having pets at work lowers stress levels and makes employees more productive.
But pets can help us in other ways, too. They help us to relax and focus on things other than our problems.
A Cure for Loneliness
Pets can help us to feel less lonely and isolated. Feeling needed also works to foster positive feelings. Ask the many elderly citizens or people living alone. Pets give a sense of purpose; they always need something – food, a walk, a stroke and a kind word, and they are usually appreciative. As an added benefit, if you leash up your dog and take a walk through the neighborhood or through a dog-friendly park, more than likely someone will talk to you. Studies have shown that people walking with a dog talk to new people far more often than if the dog wasn’t with them.
Coming home to your pet gives you something to look forward to. Dogs may score highest in “greetings,” but most pets are delighted to see their owners walk through the door and will show it in some way. If you have a pet, you are not alone.
Someone to Love
If you love your pet, that love comes back to you tenfold. And it is love of the best kind – unconditional and enduring. Animals offer this love, along with reliable companionship – often for a lot less trouble than having a relationship with a human. No matter how cranky you get, your pet always forgives you and continues to show affection.
When your purring cat sits cuddled in your lap, all is right with the world. Cuddling and stroking your pet is good for you and helps you to forget about your bad day at work or your boredom. Your bird perched on your shoulder, your puppy licking your face, or stroking your horse’s mane help to promote a sense of pleasure and calmness.
Someone to Talk To
It’s a known fact that talking things out relieves a lot of internal pressure, but just having someone to talk to makes a difference, too. Talk about anything – your pet will listen, and, even better, he won’t disagree. Share your thoughts, feelings, troubles, worries – or say something stupid – your pet will still love you. And you may find that by talking things out, you may come up with your own solutions.
Sense of Security
Certain animals promote a sense of safety. Your dog will bark to warn you of impending danger, and even your cat will wake you if there is smoke in the house. But the sense of having someone with you is often enough to make you feel less anxious and more secure.
Motivation to Move
If your pet needs to be walked every day, you’ll be exercising – whether you want to or not. Walking with your dog also helps you to deal with the physical stress reactions you have acquired during your day. Walking gives you an opportunity to get outside and breathe fresh air. Go ahead, take a big breath and look around you. Let your pet teach you how to appreciate the outdoors.
The Human-Animal Bond
The strength of the human-animal bond is not a myth. Although life with a pet is not always easy, the joy of pet ownership can be a wonderful experience. A snuggle from your cat or a slurpy kiss from your dog promotes very special feelings and creates a human/animal bond that can last for many years.
6 thoughts on “Have You Hugged Your Pet Today?”
How true this is! When I lost my husband in May after a long illness, I was devastated. My children were grown and on their own and I was in this big house alone with my grief, and my husbands cat, Piper who was as lost without him as I was. Over the next few weeks we turned to each other for comfort and she was the one who was always there when the tears started flowing. She would pat my leg with her silky black paw until I would take her up into my lap and sob with my face buried in her fur. We’ve turned to each other many times over the past few months and together we’ve made it through the tough times. As for the big empty house, it is now filled with with love. Piper and I adopted two kittens, one from a shelter and another a rescue who was from an unwanted litter and about to be drowned. Then just to make things interesting we adoped a dog who’s owner was being deployed overseas. Now I have all the love I can handle and my lonely nights have been replaced with feeding, brushing, walking and playing with all my four footed friends. Yes, I still miss my husband, but there is so much love in my life now that it’s hard to find time for grief.
Lynn, thank you so much for sharing your story. I’m sorry you lost your husband and am happy that Piper helped you through the grief. And how wonderful that you and Piper have opened your loving hearts to two kittens and a deployed serviceman’s dog. You sure do have your hands full, and I’ll bet you are loving it (as each of them are too). Much love and joy to you all.
Amen to all the above! When my husband, John, recently had emergency colon surgery, my puppy, Maggie, was wonderful company for me. The house wasn’t so cold and quiet with her jumping around or snuggling up to me.
Sue, glad to hear your little Maggie held down the fort with you while hubby had surgery. They’re a great outlet for us, aren’t they? They listen and never talk back. : )
Hugs to you,
Oh, what a lovely post, B.J.
Julie, thank you! That means so much!