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  • Pets can bring an overwhelming amount of fun, joy, and love to our lives—additionally, they can help to soothe any feelings of loneliness.
  • Dogs, cats, and other pets love their owners unconditionally and in showing this love are able to help us feel happy again.
  • The positive impact doesn’t stop there: pets are also scientifically proven to reduce stress and blood pressure, alleviate pain, lower cholesterol, and increase their owner’s social interactions, too.
  • Another plus is that these pets aren’t judgmental; they won’t let anything get in the way of loving you.
  • If you’re looking for your perfect pet, you can check out adoptable pets near you on Petfinder and FoundAnimals.org.

Mila is a dog, and she’s one of my best friends. I’m sure all of the pet owners and animal lovers out there understand, but for those of you who don’t, here’s why my dog is my best friend: First, she’s fun; Mila is always up for exploring the neighborhood and going on new adventures. She’s also incredibly loyal; even when I lose my cool or smell not-so-great after a workout, she tolerates (even prefers) my company. And finally, the cherry on top is that she’s loving—Mila loves me no matter what, and she shows me that love every single day. With a wag of her tail, a slobbery kiss, or a loud cry, she expresses this love and soothes any feelings of loneliness: something I’ve struggled with my whole life.

In fewer words, my dog is my best friend because she brings a great deal of joy to my life. She brings a smile to my face and ensures that I don’t suffer from lonely feelings anymore. She is self-care wrapped into one honey-colored, 65-pound package. While Mila is special to me, she isn’t the only of her kind. In fact, you can experience the same unconditional love and other benefits I’ve just described—all it takes is caring for you very own furry friend.

Who Takes Care of Who?

Did you know that just petting a dog or cat for a few minutes is scientifically-proven to improve your mood? Interacting with your pet triggers the release of oxytocin, the “feel-good” hormone that helps us feel happy. This alone makes getting a pet super beneficial and therapeutic for people who are lonely, depressed, or burdened in any other way (hence: therapy dogs). But that’s not to say that this is the only health benefit you receive as a pet owner. Caring for a dog, cat, or other pet is also scientifically proven to…

1. Reduce stress and blood pressure: Researchers at the State University of New York at Buffalo saw that when people with high blood pressure cared for a dog, their stress levels dropped, as did their blood pressure.

2. Alleviate pain: Pets also prove to ease our pain, especially when we’re dealing with chronic pain that manifests as migraines or fibromyalgia. In fact, one study found that 34% of fibromyalgia patients reported pain relief after spending as little as 10 minutes with a therapy dog, compared with only 4% of patients who sat alone in a waiting room.

3. Lower cholesterol: According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, owning a cat or dog translates into lower cholesterol too. While it isn’t clear why, pet owners (especially men) do, indeed, have significant lower levels of cholesterol and triglyceride.

4. Take the edge off: Your pet can also aid your social efforts. A study from Australia found that owning a pet leads to an increase in social interactions. This further helps to soothe those lonely feelings I mentioned earlier.

Find Your Perfect Companion in a Pet

Many people find that the small amount of care a pet requires is not only doable, but oh-so rewarding. These animals provide unconditional love and support. They don’t care if you were late to work this morning, or if you skip your shower tonight. They won’t hold a brief freak-out against you or judge you for crying. Instead, they’ll do their best to comfort you without telling you to snap out of it or urging you to feel better. Animals are happy to just hang out and share their lives with us, making them the perfect cure for loneliness. Here are a couple helpful resources for finding the perfect pet for you:

  • Petfinder: This site allows you to put in your location and then find all pets available for adoption near you. You can even narrow your search to filter out other animals if you know you want a dog, cat, hamster, or horse—you name it.
  • Found Animals: This nonprofit is dedicated to putting pets in loving homes and, like Petfinder, allows you to find adoptable animals nearby. Additionally, it offers a ton of informative resources about caring for your pet.

 

Taylor Bennett

Taylor Bennett

Taylor Bennett is a staff writer at Thriveworks. She devotes herself to distributing important information about mental health and wellbeing, writing mental health news and self-improvement tips daily. Taylor received her bachelor’s degree in multimedia journalism, with minors in professional writing and leadership from Virginia Tech. She has published content on Thought Catalog, Odyssey, and The Traveling Parent.

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