By Samantha Rogers
Every day after work, I fight my way through five o’clock traffic and trudge up the stairs to my house. Immediately after I open the door, I’m confronted by two yellow Labrador Retrievers whose tails are wagging so fast that nearby breakables are in danger. The level of excitement rivals that of preteens at a Justin Beiber concert, and I can’t help but smile—but in reality, I’m just a typical pet owner.
Like 46 % of American households, I own a dog and understand how it can enhance several aspects of your life including your emotional wellbeing. Below we outlined our three favorite benefits of owning a pet.
- They are stress busters and mood boosters: It takes a mere 15 to 30 minutes in a pet’s company to reduce anxiety and stress levels. When humans interact with pets, levels of the stress hormone cortisol are reduced and more of the feel-good chemical serotonin is produced.
- It’s heart healthy: Countless studies have shown that owning a pet is directly attributed to lowering blood pressure, and even just petting an animal can result in a drop. One study showed that those who had owned a cat at some point in their life were 37 percent less likely to die of a heart attack than those who had never owned a cat.
- It helps with social integration: Owning a pet may force you to get out of the house and interact with others, whether it’s chatting with another dog owner at the park or bringing your pet to the vet. These added social interactions can be especially important for those struggling with depression or PTSD.
A growing number of military members and veterans are using service dogs for both physical disabilities and mental health issues, or are just enjoying the benefits from having their own pets.
Need some convincing? Hear the amazing story of how Capt. Adrian Veseth-Nelson’s dog Thor saved his life (twice). Have your own story of your pet helping your emotional wellbeing? Share it with us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Samantha Rogers is the Program Assistant at Military Pathways.