The bond that we create with our pets is so complex. I often wonder: What is it that makes humans and pets so great together? Is it, for us females, our maternal instincts seeing the pets as our children? Or maybe for the introverts, a best friend who is always by your side? In my case, it started as both and it developed into so much more. My dog, Yuna, saved me from so many panic attacks and anxiety. Sometimes there is no reason to get out of bed in the morning if you are dealing with depression and anxiety but Yuna was the reason I had to get up every day. I had to feed her, walk her. Because I was in the kitchen to feed her I would eat. Because I had to take her on walks I had to change clothes and go outside and face the world. In many of those walks, I met other people walking their dogs or just wanted to say hi to Yuna. That helped me greatly and I will never forget the times I was down and she was there for me.
I have shared my and Yuna’s story many times before and others have shared their stories with me. The end is always the same: gratitude, trust and lots of love. This symbiotic relationship is a necessity for so many of us but having a pet is so much more. Sharing our house and heart with them gives us so many benefits. Here are the result of a few studies:
“There are many reasons why dogs are called humans’ best friends: not only do they offer unparalleled companionship, but a growing body of research shows they also boost human health. Owning a dog can prompt you to be more physically active — have a leash, will walk. It can also:
• help you be calmer, more mindful, and more present in your life
• makes kids be more active, secure, and responsible
• improve the lives of older individuals
• make you more social and less isolated
Just petting a dog can reduce blood pressure and heart rate (while having a positive effect on the dog as well).”
“Pets can help even if you have started to show evidence of heart problems. In an intriguing study published in the American Journal of Cardiology, researchers followed more than 400 patients after they were released from the hospital after having a heart attack. One year later the pet owners had a significantly higher survival rate than non-pet owners. Their guess is that the affectionate bond and social support provided by their dogs was reducing their stress and stress is a major contributor to cardiovascular problems.”
“Stress is not the only problem which our bond to our pets can help. Up to 25% of people who go to general practitioners do so for depressive and anxiety disorders. Depression is actually considered to be much more disabling, both socially and even terms of physical functioning, than many chronic physical illnesses such as diabetes, arthritis and back pain. Although depression can be caused by many factors, one of the most common is simply loneliness.
People with inadequate human social support can really benefit from pet ownership and the emotional bonds that pets provide. With the weakening of extended family ties, older people are particularly at risk of becoming lonely, isolated and depressed. The research looked at 60 years of age and older, who were not living with human companions, but were living with a pet. The likelihood that the non-pet owners would end up being diagnosed as clinically depressed was four times higher than that found in the pet owning people of the same age. There was also evidence that the pet owners required fewer medical services and were much more satisfied with their lives.”
So, for that and for so many other reasons give your furry kid an extra kiss and an extra treat because they truly deserve!