The Therapeutic Value Of Keeping A Pet

happy man running with dog in park
Photo by Zen Chung on

When people think about pets, some fairly obvious things come to mind. The family pet – be it a dog, cat, or another animal, is a source of joy, fun, and companionship, perhaps even more so for a family with young children. Whether it be growing up with pets or as a companion in older age, we share a connection and perhaps even a fascination with animals.

It comes as no surprise that keeping a pet also has a range of physical, mental, and emotional health benefits. 

The keeping of pets

It should be stated upfront that keeping a pet is a major commitment and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Domestic animals, as opposed to wild animals, have developed an inter-relationship with humans over time. As such, they have a greater dependency on their human co-habitants for food, shelter, and support. A range of veterinary care and support services, including pet food in Mesa, can be found by visiting the link.

As well as being a necessity, the act of catering for the social and welfare needs of the pet is arguably one of the key benefits of pet ownership – instilling strong social and societal values in developing children.

Lifestyle and fitness benefits

Owning a pet – particularly an active animal like a dog – conjures up a range of physical fitness and lifestyle benefits. The domestic dog is generally social by nature, having developed from a pack animal. As such, a fair degree of interaction is involved, and this, of course, also includes physical exercise!

Daily exercise with the family dog can range from moderate (such as the daily walk) to high-energy sessions at the local beach or park. Not only does this benefit the owner physically, but the engagement in routine exercise sessions serves to deepen the bond and connection between the human and animal. 

Mental health and connection

Domestic animals have evolved to become more attuned to the moods and expressions of their human co-habitants. As such, they are capable of reading bodily cues such as tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language, including our gestures.

This deeper sense of ‘attunement’ and connection brings with it a range of mental health benefits. For example, studies have shown that pet owners may benefit from a reduction of mental stresses, including stress, anxiety, hypertension, and depression.

The companionship that the house pet evokes is a perfect cure for loneliness. It, therefore, comes as no surprise that animals are typically welcomed and even encouraged in old age and convalescent homes.

Various studies have shown that a pet animal may reduce doctor’s visits in the elderly, elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, which promote deep relaxation, and assist in leveling behavioral problems with younger adults and children.

Sensory relief and the benefit of touch

Keeping many pets is a tactile experience, and studies show that touch – simply stroking or petting a cat or a dog – has significant therapeutic value. All humans feel the need for love, and touch forms a huge part of that expression.

For the developing child, this can form a key part of their socialization and assists their interaction with others as they grow. For the elderly, it may represent comfort and a sense of tranquility.

It comes as no surprise that convicts show strong behavioral changes following their interaction with animals.

Find meaning in life

The simple act of pet ownership opens up a range of dimensions and benefits. The beauty of this relationship is that those benefits are mutual – the bond of human and animal benefits both. For many people, this bond is a life-changing experience and connects us all to something deeper.

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