Does Having a Pet Really Reduce Stress? Find Out Here!

Does Having a Pet Reduce Stress?
Pets come with a 'feel good factor' that can relieve stress, enhance your mood, and improve overall well-being. The following WellnessKeen article elaborates more on how pets can be helpful to reduce stress.
WellnessKeen Staff
Last Updated: May 11, 2018
Did You Know?
Pets can lower anxiety as well as improve social skills of children diagnosed with autism.
Does having a pet reduce stress? Yes, of course! To stay mentally healthier, what better way than owning a pet. Pets have long been a source of enjoyment for many. Their presence can be comforting, it can banish loneliness and of course, reduce stress.
How Owning a Pet can Reduce Stress
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  • Studies show that those having a pet, are better equipped to deal with stress. The love and affection that we receive from a pet can substantially reduce the negative impact of stress on our health. A lowered physiological and emotional response to stress is one of the most important benefits of owning a pet.
  • Playing with a pet is a great source of comfort and has shown to boost serotonin activity in the brain. Serotonin is referred to as the happy hormone, hence the increase in its levels can certainly enhance feelings of well-being.
  • Studies have also shown that gently running your hand over the dog's coat for a few minutes, triggers the release of a cascade of 'feel good hormones' including oxytocin, prolactin, and dopamine. Oxytocin has shown to decrease levels of cortisol, the hormone released during times of stress. No wonder, interacting with a pet instills a feeling of calmness and relaxation.
  • High blood pressure (HBP), one of the most common side effects of today's stress-ridden lifestyle, can be kept under control with pet companionship. Studies show that pet ownership can help to nullify the exaggerated blood pressure response associated with stress. One study conducted in 2001 has shown that in times of stress, HBP patients owning a pet were better at controlling blood pressure than those who did not own a pet.
  • A stressful job is one of the primary contributory factors in increasing cholesterol levels. However, studies show that interacting with pets after coming home from work can be a natural remedy to lower elevated cholesterol levels in response to stress.
  • According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pet ownership can be good for the heart at it can help lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels. No wonder, having a pet decreases the chances of having a heart attack. Moreover, the patients also lead a healthier and a longer life.
  • A recent study also observed that with pet ownership, people tend to be happier, more social, less lonely, and have a higher self-esteem. The emotional support provided by pets does have a positive impact on one's psychological well-being.
  • Playing with pets uplifts the mood, which can contribute in reducing depression. Spending some time daily with the pet is bound to make us feel good, thanks to the release of 'happy hormones'. So pets act as mood enhancers, and can be of great help for people with depression.
Indeed, pet ownership can have a positive impact on your mental health. On the whole, having a pet is an effective way to overcome stress. The bond you develop with your pets and the unconditional love you get from them, enriches life.