Benefits of Having Pets at Home During Times of Stress
It’s been weeks since you’ve seen the sun. Not really, but it certainly feels like that since COVID-19 hit the scene.
With more than half of the workforce at home, people are financially and emotionally on edge. Essential workers, including those on the frontlines, are facing the brunt of stress and anxiety.
The only ones happy with humans being stuck at home for an extended period of time are pets. Well, dogs, anyway. As solitary creatures, cats are not loving their space constantly being invaded.
There’s a meme going around social media joking that dogs are behind the coronavirus pandemic to get their owners to stay home. While dogs may not actually be the masterminds of a contagious virus, there are benefits to being in quarantine with your pets.
Pets Give You Something to Stay Home For
While humans like their alone time, we are, by nature, social creatures. Situations like the COVID-19 pandemic showed us that when the gyms and restaurants are closed, our pets will always be there for a little extra socialization.
Numerous studies, including one by the American Heart Association, shows a link between owning dogs and living longer. The research finds that dog owners are less likely to suffer from a stroke or cardiovascular problems than people who don’t own pets.
Many other studies also cite the positive influence pets, not just pups, can have on the mental and physical health of their owners.
How Pets Affect Mental Health
Self-isolation and social distancing were meant to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus and keep people healthy. But the intellectual understanding of a stressful situation doesn’t make it any easier. And the effects of large stressors take a toll on both our physical and mental health.
It may seem impossible that a four-legged furry creature is the answer to staying healthy during stress as immense as a worldwide pandemic. While pets may not be the solution to your situation, they are part of the answer.
Pets are interrelated to better mental health because they:
- Ease Depression - Isolation is very, well, lonely. Especially if you’re used to being around others at your job or regularly attend social gatherings. While pets aren’t great conversationalists, you’re never truly alone if they’re around, especially dogs.
- Reduce Anxiety - COVID-19 showed us that danger is lurking in the air and possibly on anything we touch. The pandemic itself was bad enough, but it awakened everyone up to the anxiety that anything can happen. Pets can help reduce anxiety because they are calm and comforting.
- Provide Physical Touch - In recent years, research has shown that physical touch is an essential part of mental health. Not everyone has the benefit of human companionship. But petting your furry friend has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression while giving us much-needed physical touch.
How Pets Affect Physical Health
Mental health and physical health go hand-in-hand. Anything that improves your mental health is sure to improve your physical health and vice versa.
A pet that requires activity is your excuse to get up and move. At the same time, you’re improving your mental health, too.
Your pet can extend your healthy life in many ways, such as:
- Providing Physical Exercise - Taking walks in the fresh air is one of the best types of exercise you can get. And no one loves walks more than dogs. Walking your dog when you feel lonely or isolated can provide much-needed exercise and a change of scenery. Don’t forget to protect your pup, family, and home from outside germs and dirt by having your pup wear Walkee Paws - the world’s first doggie leggings.
- Reducing Stress - Stress shows itself physically and mentally. Hypertension is one of the biggest causes of death in the world. Stress is a big contributor to heart problems and other ailments.
Stress is often accompanied by anxiety and depression. Keeping your stress low also keeps other mental health issues under control.
- Keeping Your Immune System Healthy - Our immune system is literally life or death in the face of things like the novel coronavirus. People with compromised immune systems have difficulty recovering from viral infections.
Pets don’t directly affect the immune system. However, stress and other factors do play a huge role in diminishing the health of our immune system, and staying active with your pet reduces your stress level.
COVID-19 and Pets
Every pet owner wants to know: Can my dog or cat get infected with coronavirus?
As far as researchers can tell, no, they can’t get coronavirus in their system. They can, however, carry it on their fur.
The best way to protect your pet from COVID-19 is to protect yourself by washing your hands and keeping your distance from other people. Taking preventative measures with your pup, like using Walkee Paws, helps prevent your dog from bringing in viral, parasitic, and bacterial disease from outdoors.