Pets are a great way to remain more active and to have a connection to another living being. They encourage us to care for them and to care for ourselves in the process. They keep us stimulated mentally, socially and physically. And, there is evidence that those who have pets have a better mood and decreased tendency toward depression.
Just watch the face of someone when a puppy or kitten comes in the room! Pet’s are good listeners and will unconditionally love. They can decrease feelings of isolation and give one a sense of purpose. When walking a dog, a person is more likely to connect with others. This alone enhances well-being and reduces stress. Physiologically, having a pet has been proven to resist heart disease, lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol and triglycerides. Pets can promote a relaxation response that would decrease the likelihood of any stress related disorder.
Answer submitted by Mary Michaelsen, Occupational Therapist at Provena Mercy Medical Center