Since I was spending Thanksgiving break at home with my family, I got to spend some quality time with my family’s dog. I have really enjoyed having her around and have felt my mood lifted. Just having her sitting on my lap relaxes me and makes me feel lighter. Along with this, my parents and I have been watching the new documentary series Dogs on Netflix. This has inspired me to look more into how animals improve mental health, as I see how much they improve the lives of the owners on the show.
Animals give us purpose. We take on a responsibility when we own a pet. Whether it is an individual responsibility or a whole family taking it on, caring for an animal is work. It can help us feel valuable and necessary when we have an animal. It can also help establish a routine. Owning an animal requires you to feed it and take it out daily. Cleaning your animal is also a responsibility and can be a calming experience. When I give my dog a bath and use a blow-dryer and soft comb afterwards to make her fur fluffy, I feel a sense of accomplishment and also happiness that I could help her.
Pets provide us constant companionship. When we are feeling lonely, we can turn to our pets for company and to feel loved. Along with this, pets can help us meet others. If you are walking your animal, it is a lot easier to socialize with others. Many people will stop you along the way and ask to pet them and maybe start up a conversation. There are some people who have created lasting friendships this way. Dog parks are another great way to both meet other animal-lovers and get your dog some exercise (and maybe they can meet a friend too!)
In many cases, animals improve mental health ailments. For example, having a pet has helped some families of children with ADHD. Pets are playful creatures and can tire a child out and keep them occupied. Parents who have kids with ADHD can sometimes have trouble calming their children, but pets offer a calming effect just by laying on a child’s lap.
Pets have also helped children with autism. These children have problems with their senses and they can undergo programs to help them understand how something can feel against their skin. Dogs and horses are often used for these programs.
How do your pets improve your life? Do you have a pet? If you don’t, how do you think having one can improve your life? Share your experiences below!