Companion animals help humans to live more in the present! From the moment they wake up to bedtime, they live in the moment: they are not worried about tomorrow and they are full of happiness and are always excited to spend time with their human guardians. For thousands of years, in particular, our canine furry friends have loved us unconditionally, helped us with work and relaxation, guarded our homes, protected us from danger, been constant companions, given friendship, loyalty, and much more! There’s a reason that dogs are considered “our best friend” however, other types of pets similarly provide benefits to their pet parents. Most importantly, pets provide us with constant companionship, unconditional love, and joy. A house is truly not a home, unless there is an animal companion to share it with!
There are many benefits of having a pet in peoples’ lives. For starters, they make us happier and healthier. Pets provide humans with a sense of belonging which is essential for our well-being. A recent research study performed by the American Psychological Association indicated that pets provide humans with social support and naturally improve their lives. In fact, evidence collected from this study suggests that people who share their home with dogs or with other companion animals have more “self-esteem, are more physically active and fit; they report feeling less lonely, are more conscientious, social and outgoing, and have healthier relationships with humans” compared to people who do not share their homes with pets.
The top benefits of having a pet in the home backed up by scientific research include, and are not limited, to the following: pets can help to lower our stress levels. By simply making eye-contact with a dog or cat, both their and our Oxycontin levels rise which naturally lowers our cortisol thereby relieving stress levels! As stated in How Pets Improve Your Mental Health, “Hugging a dog or cat releases Oxycontin and dopamine levels, hormones that reduce stress, lower blood pressure and heart rates, and also increases happiness…” said physician Dr. Kristen Fuller. In fact, many workplace institutions encourage employees to bring their pets to work as that improves their productivity. Studies have shown that people in the workplace who receive visit from therapy dogs improve their work performance. Even short visits with pets can help calm people at work, by releasing endorphins, lower blood pressure, and improve heart health, and reduce stress levels at work. Also, many people tend to bring their work stresses home with them. Knowing that they will come home to their beloved pet helps to reduce their stress levels and lifts them up! Further, Dr. Fuller also said that “[touching a pet] can inhibit certain regions of the brain from responding to threat cues that would normally produce fear”. In other words, not only does caressing or touching our animal companion relieve stress, it also relieves our feelings of fright!
Sharing our home with a dog ensures that we remain physically active and stay fit! It also helps us spend time outside in nature. Caring for a dog comes with the responsibility of having to go outside, i.e. going on daily walks. Many studies demonstrate that dog guardians “tend to have lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, both reducing the risk of heart-related health illnesses”. Also, spending time with a dog can even boost our self-confidence! While out for your daily walks, your furry friend will inevitably interact with other dogs on their walks and people out for a stroll. It is natural for you to interact with other people walking their furry pals so there’s a social component to being a dog’s guardian or pet parent that is essential to a person’s well-being. Like dogs, humans are social creatures and crave social connection with others and bonding so it’s a natural and complimentary relationship.
Lastly, an animal’s unconditional love for the humans in their life can reduce the effects of depression and thoughts of loneliness. In fact, a study conducted by BarkBox suggests that, of those surveyed, “85% revealed that their dogs have ‘helped them get through a difficult time in their life’.” Also, having an animal in one’s life which includes other species of animals such as cats, rabbits, parrots, horses, pigs, etc. is rewarding; to be responsible for a pet “adds another sense of purpose to [one’s] life”. Accordingly, a research study conducted by the Human Animal Bond Research Institute indicated that “[most] pet owners experienced improved mental health through pet ownership [and] saw the mental health of a family member improve through pet [guardianship]”.
All in all, there are many advantages to sharing your home with a pet and can make every family member feel loved, and naturally improving everyone’s mood. Pets can be funny too! They can make us laugh and bring joy and fun into our lives! As we have seen through numerous studies, there are many benefits to having an animal companion in one’s life! Simply put, animals just make life better for us and help us smile! Their mere presence and ability to live in the moment can put a smile on everyone’s face! Are you thinking about adoption? If so, there are millions of adoptable dogs and cats sitting in shelters and rescues all across the globe waiting for their forever home! Please spread the message that adopting from shelters and rescues save lives!
 McConnell, Allen R. “Friends with Benefits: Pets Make Us Happier, Healthier.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 2011, www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/the-social-self/201107/friends-benefits-pets-make-us-happier-healthier.
 Warner, Christine. “How Pets Improve Your Mental Health.” Verily, Verily, 14 Jan. 2019, verilymag.com/2019/01/how-pets-improve-your-mental-health.
 Newsonen, Susanna. “Why Dogs Make You Happy.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 2018, www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/the-path-passionate-happiness/201809/why-dogs-make-you-happy.
 “Why Do Dogs Make Us Happy.” Edited by Wet Nose Blog, Pets for Patriots, 11 Sept. 2017, petsforpatriots.org/dogs-make-us-happy/.
 Supra note 3.