Siblings playing with dog

EAT, PLAY, LOVE

02/08/14

A pet’s life is simple. All they want is a good meal, a ball or stuffed mouse to chase, and someone to love—you!

In return, a pet can pick you up when you’re down, help you relax when things get stressful, and make you laugh with all the goofy things they do. Even when they wreck the lawn or claw your favourite chair (your cat would never do that, would she?!) we love them just the same.

“I believe that having a pet helps us to lead richer, fuller lives – emotionally, psychologically, physically, and spiritually,” says Dr. Debbie Stoewen, veterinarian and Pets Plus Us Care & Empathy Officer.

“They see us for who we are, without any judgment. That’s a very powerful thing.”

It’s also been shown that just a few minutes stroking a pet can begin to lower blood pressure and relieve stress. Isn’t it relaxing just thinking about a warm cat in your lap, purring up a storm?

But pets aren’t just good for their owners; they’re also great at helping us build relationships with other people. You may even consider your pet a kind of community ambassador!

“Animals have a way of connecting us with other people,” says Dr. Debbie. “When someone sees you out with your pet, it’s much more likely that they’ll stop and talk with you.” When someone passes by, you know your dog wants to say hello. And why not? “Pets don’t discriminate,” adds Dr. Debbie. “In their presence, we tend to follow their lead and find ourselves opening up too.”

Here’s a few more ways having a cat or dog can change your life:

  • Pets can help us cope with loneliness, which is especially good for those who live alone, like seniors.
  • Having a dog that needs a daily walk can motivate you to stay active.
  • Having a pet can teach important life lessons to kids, like the responsibility of caring for another living creature.
  • In a world where we’re more disconnected, caring for a pet helps reinforce our natural empathy and strengthens our emotional connection.
  • Pets offer unconditional love and companionship in a way many human relationships can’t.

One last reason? “They just make us smile,” says Dr. Debbie. “It’s hard to see a happy dog and not grin right along with him!”