How Pets can Improve Self-Esteem and Make You Happier

Written by Paisley Hansen
February 1st, 2020 | Updated: March 25th, 2020

how pets can improve self-esteem
How a dog loves you

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Animals are amazing creatures. When you love an animal, it changes your life for the better. Whether you come home to a cat, dog, hamster or other animal, it can add more joy to your day. A beloved pet not only provides love and affection but also adds several other benefits to its favorite person’s life. Here are five examples of how pets can improve self-esteem and make you happier.

Set a Good Example

Animals don’t have a lot of the same hang-ups that humans have. Fish don’t get their egos bruised if they miss out on a special prize or accomplishment. Cats don’t let their schedules get in the way of much-needed downtime. Dogs get excited at little things and aren’t embarrassed to let their exuberance show. When you have pets, you can learn from their example about how to relax and enjoy life. They are good reminders that you don’t have to take every minor problem so seriously. This can be a natural boost to your outlook and to your self-esteem.

Provide Emotional Support

You may know someone who has a service animal, but did you know that pets can also be registered as emotional support animals? For people who suffer from loneliness, anxiety, depression or any persistent condition that takes an emotional toll, animals can help alleviate the symptoms of those issues. Just spending time with your pet can raise serotonin or dopamine levels and reduce the stress hormone cortisol , leaving you feeling happier and more at ease. Even if you have not been given an official diagnosis by a mental health professional, cuddling or petting an animal can have positive emotional effects. 

Encourage Social Interaction

Many mental health issues stem from feelings of isolation. Having a pet can solve this problem. If you have a dog, for example, you have a built-in reason to get out of your house and mingle. When the dog needs to go for a walk, you grab the leash and go. Taking your pet to the dog park gives you the opportunity to interact with other pet parents. You can use the time your pet is running around and playing with other dogs to share stories and get to know the regulars who are there. Even if you’re just walking around your neighborhood, a friendly dog can make you more approachable, making it more likely that your neighbors will reach out and say hello. This shows how pets can improve self-esteem.

Even if your pets don’t require frequent outings, they can still give you a social outlet. There are many online forums for pet owners where members share pictures and stories. You can also ask advice, which comes in handy if your pet exhibits a behavioral issue or seems to be sick.

Increase Physical Activity

Besides the social aspect, another benefit of walking your dog is getting regular exercise. Adults need about 150 minutes of exercise a week . This may sound like a lot, but it only takes a brisk walk around the block for 15 minutes twice a day to exceed this minimum. By walking your dog in the morning before work and in the evening when you get home, you not only ensure that your pet is getting the exercise it needs but that you are, too. If you have a larger dog, you have an automatic running partner. Running with a dog deters would-be attackers and thus makes running safer for you, even when it’s dark outside. It also helps your dog expend pent-up energy that it may otherwise take out on your house or belongings.

Improve Overall Health

With all the relaxation benefits of having a pet, it should be no surprise that having pets can improve your overall health. How exactly do they do that, though? Interacting with an animal can actually lower your blood pressure. This not only reduces the stress and the negative effects it has on the body but also protects your heart. Pet owners consistently show improved heart health over time.

It’s only fair that you return the favor of good health to your furry friend. It’s important to take care of your pet responsibly. Can cats eat human food? In many cases, the answer is no. For example, most cats are lactose intolerant and cannot process the enzymes in milk products. Just because your pet begs for something, that does not mean that eating in it is in the animal’s best interest. Educate yourself and ask your veterinarian for guidelines on how to keep your pet happy and healthy.

People are lucky to have animals in the world. Pets provide unconditional love and support, which is especially useful when you’re feeling down. Spending time with your favorite animal has physical, emotional and social benefits. If you are looking for a way to reduce stress and be more active, having a pet boosts your self esteem and is a fun way to do that.

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