Pets and our mental wellness

Pets and our mental wellness

My dog people already know where I’m going with this… don’t you?

While they come with their own set of responsibilities and challenges, more and more evidence is being uncovered that shows a strong link between pet ownership (and animals broadly) and mental health. Our furry friends are good at puking in inconvenient places and helping us live happier, more connected lives.

Let us begin with a caveat: early alcohol-free days may not be the best time to go out and adopt a pet that requires intensive care and training. We work on stability and stress management in the beginning, so if you leave this article really itching for a new animal friend, let’s stick with a good old fashioned goldfish or something easy. (Or better yet—call up a pet-owning friend and ask to take Sparky for a walk in the park to check your companionship box for the day.)

But the research is clear: pets increase our mental and physical health outcomes.

This relationship has complex roots; we receive unconditional love and affection (usually… unless we’re talking about my 14 year old house goblin/cat…), and the act of caring for another creature builds self-esteem, self-efficacy, and sense of purpose.

Research notes that pet owners have a host of psychological and health benefits, including:

  • less likely to suffer depression

  • lower blood pressure during stressful situations

  • reduced levels of triglyceride and cholesterol (high levels can be indicators of heart disease)

  • longer survival after having a heart attack

  • 30% fewer visits to the doctor after the age of 65

  • Longer life expectancy