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Pets Benefit Mental Health

Hokulea Rezentes

I have always wondered why animals are such an important part of our lives. Of course, they are lovable creatures, but beyond that, I want to explore how they benefit people and impact our mental health. While there are all kinds of animals, putting a direct focus on house pets such as dogs and cats will be able to highlight why people should surround themselves with pets more and how it’ll increase their health.

According to PetMD, “Dogs lead as the most popular pets in the U.S., with 65.1 million households including a pup”. In addition to being cute and cuddly animals, dogs help people by lowering stress levels, offering solace during lonely moments, and promoting productivity. WebMD talks about how “being around pets can lower the stress hormone cortisol, which helps reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.” I have always experienced anxiety and felt lonely being around my house. Still, when my dogs are around, my mind feels at ease. Dogs have a calm and collected aura, which leads to comfort during hard times. In addition to providing comfort, dogs can read emotions, which leads to their ability to act according to how we treat them. I noticed that when I am crying, my dog, who is typically not cuddly, will come up and sit in my lap, wanting me to pet her. Of course, I enjoyed her doing this, but I felt it was important to dive deeper into how she was able to do it. According to the Banyan Treatment Center, dogs pick up on “how we sound, smell, and even look,” which leads to them being able to “decipher our emotions and respond in a comforting manner.” Although some people may think animals are incapable creatures, their ability to read emotions based on non-obvious cues is a sign of their true intelligence. This explains why my dog acknowledges every time I’m sad and that her comfort makes me feel more at ease. Although I’m referring to my dog in particular, the article discusses any dog because it can assist anyone experiencing mental health issues. This compelling reason why owning a dog could improve your life and make you happier is the ability to have a companion to care for you during difficult times. 

While dogs are one of the biggest emotional support animals we see, cats are another important animal to recognize that benefits our health. With 29% of households owning a cat, this is the second most common house pet. While they are independent yet cuddly animals, people also own cats to relieve stress, have companionship, and heal wounds. Given their propensity for self-grooming and independence, cats make excellent pets. They still require a regimen for upkeep even if their independence makes them low-maintenance pets. For those struggling mentally, caring for another living creature can provide a sense of purpose in daily life and accomplishment once they see the cat thriving. While caring for them is the owner’s responsibility, they return the favor to you. According to AKC Reunite, “A cat purrs within a range of 20-140 HZ,” which has been proven to be “medically therapeutic for illnesses in humans.” A cat’s capacity to reduce stress and heart rate can help you feel more stable mentally when it purrs around you. Even though I’m not a big fan of cats, I find it fascinating that they can help people in this way. According to BasePaws, when a cat senses that a human has an illness, their refined olfactory system allows them to pick up on chemical changes in the body,” which leads them to “purr more frequently, knead, or provide comforting body contact.”  Cats knead the people they care about to soothe and express their love for their favorite persons. Additionally, it enables them to claim their territory by leaving their set on their preferred stuff. Knowing that their fluffy pet loves them gives humans a sense of purpose during difficult times and makes them feel chosen by their cats. 

Ever since the 2020 COVID pandemic, the number of people with mental health issues has increased significantly, so it is important to recognize ways to help in case you or others in your life are struggling. Housepets, like dogs and cats, are a great way to reduce stress, enjoy companionship, and create comfort in your home. If you are ever in need, housepets may be the perfect option. 

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About the Contributor
Hokulea Rezentes
Hi everyone! My name is Hokulea Rezentes and I'm a journalism major! This is my second year at MSJC and I love writing stories for people to read. Although I don't plan on transferring, I'm excited to get my associate's and have a future career hopefully working for a magazine. This is going to be a great semester with the club!
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