Life without pets seems almost unimaginable for many of us. Companion. Comedian. Confidant. Playmate. Protector. This week, which has been designated Pet Appreciation Week, is an opportunity to celebrate all the ways pets contribute to our lives.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the amazing ways that pets leave their paw prints on our hearts.
They provide comic relief with their antics.
Dogs and cats always seem to find ways to make us smile, giggle and laugh, no matter how somber our mood may be. Dogs and cats are experts in drawing out smiles, even guffaws, when they’re sprawling in comical positions, making silly noises, rolling around with a catnip toy, stalking or chasing other pets or family members, or simply acting goofy.
They provide unconditional love.
Dogs and cats are devoted companions who can sense our moods. One of the best things about having a dog or cat is how they shower us with unconditional love. Wagging tails. Wiggly butts. Head rubs. Bodies woven around ankles. Barks and meows welcome us home — even if we only went to the mailbox or grocery store. Cats and dogs communicate their unconditional love and acceptance of us in so many ways, all of which promote feelings of well-being in us (and probably them, too). In fact, research shows pet owners tend to have better overall well-being than non-owners.
They help relieve our stress and anxiety.
Contact with pets helps reduce stress, anxiety and depression, according to studies, and helps protect against other negative feelings. Pets seem to know when we need their support, which provides comfort, relief from worries and a feeling of acceptance. Just petting cats and dogs releases endorphins, our body’s natural feel-good and pain-relieving hormones. Other neurotransmitters, such as oxytocin, are released when we look at animals, bringing feelings of joy.
They teach us to live in the moment.
A dog who is chasing and retrieving a ball is only thinking about getting that ball. The cat who’s scratching his or her post isn’t thinking about anything but I. must. scratch. now. Our pets don’t live in the past. They don’t plan for the future. Cats and dogs live in the now. That’s a lesson many of us could benefit from.
They improve our health by increasing our fitness and boosting our self-esteem.
Research has shown that interacting with our furry family members has significant health benefits. Just check out the Human Animal Bond Research Institute’s website and the Pet Effect website to learn more about the healing power of prescription DOG (bestfriendor) and CAT (purrfectis).
Dogs help us stay fit when they don’t allow us to skip walk time. Studies have found that dog owners walk more on average those who don’t own dogs.
Research has also found that pet owners have higher self-esteem and greater feelings of belonging and purpose than those who don’t have pets. The fact that our pets love us regardless of how we look or behave boosts confidence and self-esteem.
We could make a strong argument for celebrating our pets and all that they do for us every day all year long. But for now, let’s focus on showing our pets how much we appreciate them this Pet Appreciation Week. Give your dog or cat a good snuggle today and thank him or her for being such a loving and devoted companion.
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