6 Ways Pets Help Boost Your Happiness

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A young man playing with his dog outdoors.

(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)

Author: Shernide Delva

Happiness is essential to a fulfilling life. Want happiness? A pet might help. If you are one of the millions of pet owners around the country, you probably cannot imagine life without your animal companion.  Pets have been shown to help increase health and happiness. Furthermore, studies show the more time you spend with your furry friend, the better you feel.

Check out the six science-backed ways pets boost your happiness. Perhaps this article will make you want to add a furry friend(s) in your home.

  1. Pets offer a comforting presence.

Having a pet is a calm, comforting, and familiar greeting you receive every day. Studies reveal merely watching fish can help lower blood pressure and muscle tension in people about to undergo oral surgery. No wonder dentists are so fond of aquariums!

Other research reveals that pet owners have lower blood pressure and heart rate before and after performing stressful tasks. The presence of an animal is so beneficial for both physical and mental reasons.

  1. Pets offer unconditional love.

Pets will love you no matter what. They are without opinions, critiques or verdicts. A study showed that nursing home residents in St. Louis felt less lonely with some quiet time with a dog alone than a visit with both a dog and other residents.  The study had half the group spend alone time with just a dog and the other half shared the dog with other nursing home residents. Those who spent time with the dog alone felt the least alone compared to the others. This could mean that many people prefer to spend quality time with their furry little friends so they can divulge their innermost thoughts and not be judged.

  1. Pets change our behavior.

You may have the worse day ever, but when you walk through the door, your pet will be excited and happy to see you. They will crave your attention and love. Pets have the ability to alter your behavior. You become less agitated and depressed after spending quality time with your loving pet.

  1. Pets are a great distraction.

In the midst of the good and horrible things occurring in our lives, pets can be an excellent distraction. Pets only require food, water, affection and attention. They are simple beings. For that reason, pets can be an effective therapy when your head is flooding with distractions. It is tough to ruminate on how horrible things are when a dog or cat is breathing near your face.

  1. Pets promote touch.

Touch is a powerful healing tool. Research indicates that a 45-minute massage can decrease levels of the stress hormone cortisol and even allows for your immune system to run more efficiently by building white blood cells. Hugging floods our body with oxytocin, a chemical that reduces blood pressure, heart rate and lowers stress.   It should come to no surprise then that petting a dog or cat can lower blood pressure and boost happy chemicals like serotonin and dopamine.

  1. Pets make you more responsible.

With pets come responsibility, and sometimes that is very healthy for us. Psychologists agree that we build our self-esteem by taking ownership of a task. When we succeed, we can assure ourselves that we can take care of others as well as ourselves. Taking care of a pet brings structure to our day. Sleeping in becomes less likely because we have to walk our dogs. Staying out all night now requires more planning and thought. Essentially, you begin to spend more time conscious of your day to day duties.


Having a pet can be helpful for many reasons. Do you have a furry friend?  If you or someone you love is struggling with mental illness, substance abuse or addiction, please call now.

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