Does Your Dog Make You Smile? The Health Benefits of Owning a Pet

Ted-snuggles-with-ConnieYesterday morning I rolled out of bed in a nasty mood. I was feeling stressed out about some upcoming events I needed to deal with. As usual, Carl (my oldest chihuahua) had awakened me with kisses, but I was still feeling blue. That was, until I saw Leeloo (second oldest chihuahua who generally stays in bed all day) running after Jack who is twice her size and happily teasing him with a toy in her mouth. She was so goofy and funny, I laughed out loud and instantly felt better!

“When thinking of ways to reduce stress in life, usually techniques like meditation, yoga and journaling come to mind. These are great to be sure. But getting a new best friend can also have many stress relieving and health benefits. While human friends provide great social support…… Pets can also provide excellent stress relief and other health benefits.”  This is according to Elizabeth Scott, M.S. in her article, How a Dog or Cat Can Reduce Stress.

I agree, there is nothing more joyful then stroking some soft fur and getting unconditional love from your pet. My dogs bring happiness everyday, Bill’s constantly wagging tail and Jack’s soulful eyes always make me smile and feel positive.

The other day I was talking to an old friend and we were reminiscing about our childhood dogs. She mentioned her first pet, Timmy, a dog her mother was so attached to, she wanted my friend to name her first son after him! It seems Timmy, a toy poodle was there for her mom through some tough times. He was her closest friend when she went through the stress of her divorce.

When my mother was very ill, I would often bring Jack to visit her. He would dose off in her lap as she petted his thick coat. She always looked forward to seeing him.

Ted looks for some attentionIndeed pets do help us to feel better. Ms. Scott highlights several health benefits; pets can improve your mood, pets help control blood pressure and pets encourage you to get out and exercise.

Who doesn’t enjoy a nice walk with their dog, and you are both getting exercise. Pets can help with social support. How many times have you talked to someone with a dog? Would you have spoken to them if they did not have a pet? So often, in the park, people will stop to say something to my dog, sparking a conversation.

Ms. Scott also emphasizes; pets stave off  loneliness and provide unconditional love.

When I was first married my husband worked long hours and I was alone most nights. I was never lonely or frightened because I had my dog with me to keep me company.

Clearly pets bring good health and happiness into our lives everyday. How does your pet make you smile?

A kind reader suggested the following article as a good companion resource for this topic. Ryan Howard runs the website which features an article entitled Why Are Pets Good For Kids?  It points out the many benefits of owning a family pet including:

Smart PArent Advice

  • Pets Encourage Better Physical Health
  • Pets Can Help With Cognitive Development
  • Pets Can Help With Big Feelings
  • Pets Can Bring People Closer Together
  • Pets Can Provide Protection
  • Pets Are the Ultimate Responsibility Lesson


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