8 Ways a Pet Can Help Improve Your Mental Health

Most pet owners swear that their pet brings immense joy and a sense of companionship. We can all agree that it’s lovely to snuggle up to your little furry friend, but did you know that having a pet has numerous physical and mental health benefits, too?

The human-animal bond has always held its stead over time, but with time, pets have also evolved to become attuned to humans and their emotions. For example, dogs can understand many words we use and can even interpret the tone of our voice, gestures, and body language.

Pet owners consider their furry companions part of their families, and this attachment can work wonders for their health. Just playing with your pet can raise levels of dopamine and oxytocin, which are the feel-good chemicals in the brain.

So, if you’re not mentally in a very good place, this is your reminder to spend more time with your pet. And if you don’t have one, maybe it’s time you consider getting one!

Studies have shown that it can improve your mental health to great lengths. Here’s how:

Stress Buster

Pets can reduce stress, particularly related to work. Almost everyone in the 9-5 grind complains of work-related stress, and 40% confess that their jobs hinder their health. Studies have shown that having pets in the workplace can not only reduce stress but even improve employee satisfaction.

A Supportive Friend

With the fast-paced lives we’re leading today, people tend to suffer from a lot of anxiety and stress. It can also get pretty lonely, as maintaining relationships takes time and energy that most of us seem to run out of quickly! For those struggling with their mental health, pets can provide support and companionship.

Increased Physical Activity

Pet owners have increased opportunities to exercise. For instance, if you’re a dog parent, you’ll need to take them for a walk daily, which means you’re also incorporating healthy daily exercise into your schedule. Studies show that dog owners are more likely to meet daily exercise requirements. And since mental health is linked to your physical health, this can create a significant impact on your life.


Humans are social creatures, and we crave companionship. Having meaningful relationships can boost mood, prevent illness, and even add years to your life. On the contrary, loneliness can lead to depression. When you care for an animal, it adds value to your life because you feel needed and wanted. It also takes focus away from your problems, especially living alone.

More Opportunity to Socialize

Most people don’t think about it, but pets can help you meet new people and forge new friendships along the way. You may meet other pet owners on a walk or at the vet’s office and bond about your mutual love for your furry companions. Finding that you are united under a common interest makes it easier to make friends with similar-minded people, and pets can be the first step towards that.

Provides Structure

Older adults struggle with adding structure and routine to their days. When they own pets, they must follow a routine, such as a regular feeding and exercise schedule. This routine not only keeps the pet calm, but it also works wonders for pet owners. Irrespective of how moody, stressed, or depressed you feel, knowing that someone depends on you will help you find the motivation to get out of bed to feed and take care of them!

A Loving Touch

Touch and movement are two key ways of managing stress. Owning a pet means you are exposed to sensory stress relief each time you stroke it. As a result, you may experience a decrease in your blood pressure, which makes you feel calmer!

Gives Purpose to Life

As people age, they tend to lose things that once gave purpose to their lives. Now that they have retired from their career and their children have gotten on with their own lives, caring for a pet can instill joy and meaning. It can boost morale and give a sense of self-worth. Additionally, adopting an older pet from a shelter can give you tremendous fulfillment because you have provided a loving home to a pet that would otherwise have been neglected or, worse, euthanized.

Final Thoughts

While the benefits of owning a pet are undeniable, it should be noted that pets are not a miracle cure for your mental health issues. If you’re not an “animal person,” it might not necessarily offer the abovementioned benefits.

However, if you love and appreciate domestic animals and are ready to put in the time, money, and energy to ensure that your pet is happy and healthy, you could be boosting your mental health in the process, too. At the same time, you should remember that owning a pet is a huge commitment that will last through the pet’s lifetime, so make sure you are absolutely certain before taking on the responsibility. If you are, it may just be the best decision you’ve ever made!