Pets for stress

Pets for stress

  • Arna Van Ravestein

Have you been stressed out lately? If so, you’re not alone, with feelings of stress and anxiety becoming a daily occurrence for many people. According the American Psychological Association, stress levels have risen over the past year, with adults reporting that stress has a negative impact on their mental and physical health. Many also feel they are not doing enough to manage their stress.

While there are many ways to effectively deal with stress, one of the most fun (and rewarding) ways is by owning a pet.


Health Benefits of owning a pet


Unchecked levels of stress have been linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, diabetes and other major health issues. Learning how to effectively manage stress is essential for good health. Here are the top ways pets help to alleviate stress:


Focus on the here and now.
Many of us will worry about the future or dwell on the past, which can increase stress levels. By giving pets attention, a person is forced to focus on the present and enjoy the moment.
Improved heart health.
Stress can increase a person’s risk of having high blood pressure and other forms of cardiovascular disease. Owning a pet can help decrease this risk, and one reason for this is exercise: dog owners tend to walk their dogs on a daily basis, which helps strengthen the heart as well as burn calories. Studies also indicate simply having a friendly dog in the room lowers blood pressure more than taking blood pressure medication.
Increased feelings of calm and relaxation.
Playing with pets can increase serotonin and dopamine, the feel-good chemicals in the brain. Petting and stroking a pet can also help a person to relax, stay calm and decrease feelings of anxiety.
Improved mood.
Pets provide unconditional love. No matter how badly a person feels, pets will love you regardless. They are also happy to see you after a hard day’s work, showering their owners with attention and affection. It’s not just the pet owners who can benefit: dogs are used at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center to boost the spirits of soldiers dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. Dogs are frequently used at children’s hospitals to provide comfort and joy for the kids as well.

Top Pets for Stress


While having any type of pet is better than none at all, here are the top animals for reducing stress:


  1. Dogs. Dogs are called “man’s best friend” for a reason. Dogs can help their owners get outside and exercise, which is also a great stress reliever. Dogs are known for providing unconditional love. Their sole mission in life is to please their owners and see them happy. This is feeling of being loved and needed may help relieve stress as well.


  1. Cats. Lap cats are great for petting and stroking, which can help increase relaxation levels and lower blood pressure.


  1. Fish. Having an aquarium can be calming and relaxing. Watching fish for several minutes a day can help a person focus on the peace and tranquility of the moment and forget their


  1. Birds. Birds are similar to fish: simply watching them (and their vibrant colors) can be therapeutic and a nice respite from the hectic events of the day.


Don’t have a pet? Get one today. Your stress levels will thank you.

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