Chapter 7
  1. Your Emotions and Your Health

186. Feeling Low? Get a Pet!

Who doesn’t feel warm and happy watching a puppy or a kitten at play?  Americans dote over their house pets, and for good reason: Pets offer companionship, and they improve our mental and physical well-being.

Pets brighten the lives of those who are anxious, lonely, or depressed because they:

  1. Give a person something to nurture and care for.

  2. Offer a sense of being wanted and needed.

  3. Offer nonjudgmental acceptance.

  4. Decrease feelings of isolation.

  5. Provide a feeling of safety for those living alone.

A study of elderly people who were depressed, disabled, or withdrawn found that pets transformed their lives. Individuals became more communicative and less depressed, and they overcame some of their physical disabilities. Other research has found that cuddling a furry pet or watching fish swim in an aquarium lowers high blood pressure and reduces feelings of anxiety.

People-oriented pets, like cats and dogs, bring families closer together and help to reduce household tension. Studies show that families with pets spend more time playing with the pet and have fewer family arguments.