A few years ago, I moved to a new town. In retrospect, it was one of the nicest flats I’ve ever lived in, but even so, it never really felt like ‘home’ to me. That is until I got my hands on two kittens. Suddenly, it felt like the flat was given a soul, and I couldn’t wait to go home at night. Even though those two rascals kept me up many a night…
How in the world did that come about?
The Pawsitive Impact: how owning a pet can improve your life
It’s a well-researched topic; the many benefits of pets. Depending on the kind of pet, the benefits can roughly be divided into four areas:
- Improved physical health: Regular exercise and play with a pet can help increase physical activity and lower the risk of obesity, heart disease, and other health problems.
- Improved mental health: Spending time with a pet has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression and increase happiness and well-being.
- Increased social support: Pets can provide emotional support and companionship, helping to reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation.
- Improved cognitive function: Studies have shown that interaction with pets can improve cognitive function, particularly in older adults, by providing stimulation and keeping the brain active.
Let’s dive deeper into these benefits.
The physical health benefits of owning a dog
Let’s assume you’ve fallen in love with a cute little puppy. Then, the day you can finally bring your new lifelong pal to their new home, you’re over the moon!
Physically, there’s no way you can continue being a couch potato. You’ll spend hours showing your Boomer where they should do their business in the first few months. That is: not on your carpet. So, goodbye long sleep-ins, hello nightly walks in the neighbourhood.
Even if you don’t feel like it, you’re now obliged to take your dog for a walk. At least 3 to 4 times a day. This will get you moving!
And after a few months, when your little ball of fur has grown a bit, it’s time to work on its condition. Think of long walks over the heather fields, the windy beach, or in city parks. Take a ball with you and play a game of fetch with your pal. Guaranteed they won’t move a muscle for the rest of the day!
Can you imagine what all this fresh air will do to your well-being? I haven’t slept so well in ages!
Of course, you could also speed up a nudge. If you like running, take your dog out for a morning run. Running together is always more fun than running on your own.
More of a swimmer? Enjoy the long summer evenings and take your dog out for a swim. Swimming is a low-impact exercise that can be especially beneficial for dogs with joint problems. Take your dog to the beach, a lake or a pool and dive in for a cooldown. Then, join them for a swim to both your heart’s content!
Mental health magic: how pets can improve your mood
There’s something undeniably soothing about the warm, soft feel of their warm and soft fur against our skin.
Pets offer unconditional love and support, helping us feel less alone and more connected. And the simple act of petting our pet can help lower our stress levels and release feel-good hormones like oxytocin. So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or need some TLC, reach out to your furry friend and cuddle up!
Spending time with your pet can help reduce stress and lower blood pressure. And having your furry buddy with you on your travels can help you overcome anxiety in new and overwhelming situations. There are thousands of success stories where the pet is an actual lifesaver for people with any mental disorder.
Research has shown that petting a dog or cat can help lower cortisol levels, the hormone associated with stress. And as icing on the cake, it also stimulates the release of endorphins, the body’s natural “feel-good” chemicals.
And they’re always so happy to see you when you come home! No one is immune to that kind of love <3
Building a buzzing social life with your pet buddy
Well, that’s an easy one! Having a pet on your side, you’ll always have a topic starter. And for the introverts and autistic people among us, I find it much easier to talk if the topic interests me…
Some unconventional ideas to start socializing with your pet:
Pet therapy: Consider volunteering as a therapy pet team, where you and your pet can visit hospitals, nursing homes, or other facilities to bring comfort and joy to people in need. It’s a beautiful way to give back to your community while at the same time giving you a sense of purpose and fulfilment. It’s also an excellent way to bond with new people.
Pet sports: Participating in pet sports, such as agility, obedience trials, or flyball, can be a great way to meet other pet owners and bond over your shared interests. And some of these don’t need to be restricted to dogs either. I’ve seen agility trails for rabbits, horses, and even goats!
Pet-friendly travel: Look for pet-friendly hotels or vacation rentals and plan a trip with your pet. This can be an excellent opportunity to meet other pet owners and explore new places. In addition, I always find pet owners more willing to socialize with like-minded travellers.
Pet photography: Join a pet photography group or attend a workshop to connect with other pet owners and photography enthusiasts. This might turn out as a whole new purpose!
And suppose you’re not feeling that courageous. In that case, there are many other ways where your pet’s simple existence provides ample opportunities for social interaction. Your daily walks, for instance. It can give introverts good handles to interact, build relationships and expand their social network. You might run into dog-walking groups and be invited to pet-friendly events.
Once, at a festival, a friend of mine couldn’t spend a minute alone. Her secret? The two cute and playful ferrets she had with her.
Playing with our pets: improving cognitive function with every game
It’s so much fun playing with your pet, whether it’s a playful puppy, kitten, or perhaps a curious ferret or rabbit! And I have other good news for you: Interacting with your pet does miracles for your cognitive function.
For starters, it provides mental stimulation. Training a pet, playing with them, and providing them with mental stimulation benefits your mind by keeping it active and improving cognitive function. By training our pet to perform some neat tricks, we do ourselves a favour too. It improves our memory, focus, and problem-solving skills!
Are you enjoying the second half of your life already? In that case, there are some additional benefits! Pet ownership has also been associated with improved memory and cognitive function in older adults, as it increases physical and social activity. In addition, studies have shown that older adults sharing their lives with a pet buddy have a lower risk of developing conditions such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Finally, spending time with your pet has secondary effects that improve cognitive function.
- It provides a sense of calm and relaxation, fostering creativity and improving cognitive function.
- It also strengthens the brain’s ability to process information, improving our cognitive function.
A pet buddy should be mandatory for students and career tigers alike, especially if they’re a bit more mature (like me)!
As a pet owner, I can attest to the numerous benefits of having a furry friend. When I adopted my kittens, I had no idea how much they would improve my life. From improved physical health to increased happiness and well-being, the positive impact that pets can have on our lives is truly incredible.
Mind sharing some of your own experiences with your pet? I’d love to hear about it!
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