Why Pets Make Us Happy

May 2, 2019

This is a featured article

Would you rather return from work to an empty home or would you like to be greeted by a bounding, tail-wagging, bundle of excitement?! There are so many ways in which our pets can bring joy into our lives (check out more info here). Whether you have an energetic hound that loves to go on adventures with you. Or a slothful feline happy to laze in your lap through all 7 seasons of Game of Thrones re-runs. Your pet is there for you. Every step and episode of the way!

The History of the Human-Animal Bond

The term “human-animal bond” was coined by Dr Leo Bustad and Dr Michael McCullough in the 1970s. Studies of the human-animal bond look at physiological, behavioural, social, psychological, and ethical consequences of the relationships between humans and their animals. To be a “bond”, the effect on each partner needs to be significant and mutually beneficial. In this case, it most certainly is.

Studies show that the first signs of domesticating dogs go as far back as the Upper-Paleolithic era. Ever since then, humans and animals have been walking a path that has moved them nearer and nearer together. Based on human and animal development, it is completely understandable that the bonds between man and beast have become ever closer. It is mutually beneficial.

A close up of a dog

Why So Sad?

In recent decades, clinical depression has escalated to epidemic proportions. Major depressive disorder (MDD) is the leading cause of disability amongst Americans between the ages of 15 and 44. Despite a marked increase in the available treatments for depression, the problem is ever-increasing.

One of the reasons for the continual rise in depressive illnesses is the fact that the drugs are not a cure-all. Pharmacological therapies can make a crucial difference, but they can not stand alone. Treatment regimes for mental health issues need to be holistic. They can include drugs, physical exercise, interpersonal therapy, behavioural activation, and talk therapy.

More and more, therapists are recognizing the benefits of pet ownership in the improvement of depressive patients. People tend to be both happier, and healthier, in the presence of an animal. Several studies show that the

A dog lying on a bed

9 Ways in Which Your Pet Can Make You Happy

  • Ever present, best friend for life. Whenever you need them, your pet will be right by your side.
  • Your companion animal is an unconditional source of comfort and companionship.
  • Studies show that the simple act of stroking your pet can be of therapeutic benefit. Spending time with your pet can help to increase endorphins (feel good hormones) and decrease cortisol (stress hormone) levels in your body.
  • Your furry friend is a healthy distraction from the banalities of life. This will help you to relax, which in turn will help you to sleep better. This will result in improved mental and physical health. The next time that a stressful situation threatens to rain on your parade, you will be better equipped to deal with it.
  • Being responsible for the well-being of another living creature can give you a sense of purpose and achievement. It can help to improve your self-esteem.
  • Are loneliness and boredom things that you struggle with? Once you have a four-legged friend in your life, this will no longer be the case!
  • Whether it is dragging a feather stick around the house for your cat. Or running and playing fetch with Fido in the park. Your furry friend will make sure that you get some exercise and all the knock-on benefits that go with that.
  • Routine. Animals love routine and thrive on it. We, humans, too are animals. Having a pet that needs meals and exercise at certain times of the day will help to add structure and routine to your life.
  • Laughter is the best medicine! We all know that a good laugh is a great way to shake off the blues. Your four-legged friend will be only to happy to oblige with some silly antics every now and then!
A man and a dog posing for the camera

Pay it Forward

  • Your pet does so much for you. What can you do to keep your end of the bargain?
  • Make sure that your pet has access to fresh, clean water at all times of the day.
  • Feed your four-legged friend a well-balanced, veterinarian-approved diet. Your pet’s diet should be suitable for their age, size, activity levels, and health condition.
  • Even if your companion animal is an outdoorsy type, you must make sure that your pet has access to shelter from the harsher elements.
  • Pets deserve to have access to a clean and hygienic ‘potty’ area. For hygiene’s sake and the health of both you and your pet. It is important to clean the potty area/s regularly.
  • Educate yourself about your pet’s health needs. What kind of vaccinations will they need? How often? Plan a good pest-control regime to avoid the unpleasantness of flea and worm infestations.
  • Commit to an annual veterinary check-up. Checking your pet’s overall health once a year can help to pick up chronic illnesses timeously. This is also a good time for booster shots.
  • What are your furry friend’s exercise needs? If you have a particularly energetic pup, make sure to schedule time for walks, and play every day.
  • Regular grooming is important and helps to prevent discomfort. Even if your kitty excels at keeping her coat in mint condition. It is a good idea to give your pet the once over once a week. Check nails, teeth, ears, and eyes. Too long nails can be painful. They can cause damage and result in uncomfortable movement. Ungroomed coats can become matted and dread-locked. An ideal playground for dirt and parasites that can cause distress and illness.

Companion Animal to ESA: Turn your Pooch into a Therapy Super Star!

Do you feel that your puppy is more than your run-of-the-mill companion canine? Do you struggle with mental or psychological health issues? Would you like to escalate your pet to an emotional support animal (ESA) status? Take the Certapet 5-minute pre-screening questionnaire to check whether you could qualify for an ESA letter.

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