If you’ve ever had a pet, you’ve probably experienced the strong emotional connection that can develop between the both of you. Pets have an uncanny ability to bring happiness and unconditional love into your life – even when you’re feeling your worst.

Emotional support animals (ESAs) are becoming more and more common and can be prescribed by a mental health professional to help people living with a mental health condition. But it turns out, just the presence of an animal in your life can improve how you’re feeling on a daily basis. Here are some of the ways that being a pet owner can improve your mental health:


1. Builds your self-esteem

You are the whole world to your pet, and they reflect the best parts of you. One study actually found that pet owners had higher levels of self-esteem compared to people without pets. Caring for a pet can help boost your morale and build your sense of self-worth. By being there for you and loving you endlessly, an animal can constantly remind you of just how great you are.

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2. Creates a routine 

No matter what, your animal needs daily care. When you’re struggling, it’s easy to become consumed with how you’re feeling, but owning a pet forces you to develop a routine – for you and for them. Having a daily routine can keep your pet balanced and calm, and keep your mental health in check too. Your pet can be the motivation to start your day, even when it feels impossible.

Read also: How to house train your dog or puppy

3. Relieves stress

Stress can feel like an inescapable part of life, but your pet is there to help. Research shows that just touching or petting your animal can lower your heart rate and release serotonin and dopamine – the chemicals that calm and relax you. Just by engaging with your pet, you can distract your mind from your stressors.

4. Provides a loyal companion

It’s easy to feel isolated and lonely if you’re struggling with your mental health. Having a companion to help you feel less alone can make a huge difference in your physical and mental health. A study found that people who owned a pet were significantly less likely to report loneliness, compared to non-pet owners. It can create a positive change in your mental health, knowing that your pet is always there for you – no matter how you’re feeling.

Read also: Routine health care for dogs

5. Encourages a healthy lifestyle

Owning a pet can change the type of life that you lead for the better. Whether your animal is pushing you to take them out for exercise or helping you meet new people, a pet inherently promotes self-care. When you take care of your pet, you’re also taking care of yourself.

There’s a lot of work and responsibility that goes into caring for something outside yourself. If you aren’t in the position to take care of a pet, remember that you can gain some of the same benefits when you interact with a friend or family member’s pet.

Animals have the power to boost your mood and improve your wellbeing. And whether intentionally or not, they’re helping you live your healthiest life – physically and mentally.

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