How do pets affect our emotional well-being?

There is a special bond between humans and their pets. How else can you explain the fact that owners of four-legged friends feel less lonely, cope more easily with stress and get sick less often? Either way, the impact of those we have domesticated is tangible — on both mental and physical health. Together with a psychologist, we tell you how pets make our lives better.

Why do people get pets?

The motives are different: some people want to escape loneliness, others want to take care of someone. Science still does not know why we are so attracted to animals. But one thing is for sure: pets give unconditional love. Such a feeling a person truly experiences only in infancy, when a mother loves her child for nothing, not for something. The unbiasedness of four-legged people is very attractive: they do not care about race, gender, clothing size, zodiac sign, after all. But it’s not just that. There is something magical about them that everyone wants to touch. And that’s why today every second family has a pet.

How do animals improve the condition of their owners?

Supportive

It’s not only humans who can empathize — pets can sense and read their owner’s emotions. They understand many words, recognize the tone of voice, respond to gestures, show tenderness — and not only when they want to eat. Scientists say that animals establish a telepathic connection with humans and therefore willingly give a paw of help when they smell something wrong. The mere presence of a furry pet helps to calm down, and a simple stroking and purring in response — cheer up. This is what the owners of four-legged dogs say.

Treating

Pet owners are less likely to go to the doctor, research shows. Scientists say that in 74% of cases pets helped their owners to cope with psychological problems and depression on the background of serious illness. It is known that dogs have a good effect on children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The process of watching and socializing develops the child’s concentration and directs their attention to the here and now.

Cats are also beneficial and help promote sleep. Similar to a favorite fluffy plaid, they literally lull you to sleep and give you a feeling of warmth and comfort. Researchers explain this by the fact that contact with a pet reduces the level of cortisol (stress hormone), blood pressure and heart rate. It is much easier to overcome negative emotions and relax in this case.

Another interesting study showed that animals reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, thus prolonging the life of the owner. This fact medics have long taken this fact into account and created a unique method of treating diseases with the participation of dogs. The hilarious practice appeared in the early 1960s and was called canisterapy («canis» — from Latin for «dog»). The results are impressive: pets help people with disabilities get around, anticipate epilepsy attacks, reduce headaches and outbursts of aggression, and speed up recovery processes.

Expand the social circle

Pets bring like-minded people together and encourage owners to meet new people. The love for animals creates a new social circle, uniting «cat people» and «dog people» all over the world. Figures prove it: thanks to their pets 40% of people coped with loneliness and found sympathetic friends, 79% — began to worry less about nothing and cope more easily with stress, 73% — found a purpose in life and 65% — made new useful connections.

Before you take the big step of adopting a pet, it’s important to realize that caring for a pet can be difficult. But if you are ready for it, the love and support of a pet will compensate for all the hardships.