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How Having a Pet Makes You Happier

By Stacy Painter
published: March 20, 2020 - updated: May 13, 2021 • 2 min. read
happy woman with cat

As a pet lover, it’s likely no surprise to you that pets make people happier. In fact, there’s an entire research group (the Human Animal Bond Research Institute, or HABRI) dedicated to proving it. But you don’t need scientific proof to know this; you just feel it. It’s in the way your pet happily greets you at the door, regardless of how long you’ve been gone, their soft fur and gentle presence, and their innocently silly quirks that keep you smiling and laughing.

We wanted to dive into some of the concrete ways pets support human happiness by looking at scientifically supported proof as well as anecdotal evidence. Here’s how pets contribute to the happiness of their pet parents.

man and cat in front of computerDogs and cats provide company and comfort

Whether your pet is particularly snuggly or slightly more aloof, their presence alone can provide comfort to pet lovers. Pets provide unconditional love, allowing their humans to freely be themselves while always being there for them.

Pets also provide an important sense of purpose to their caretakers. Dogs and cats give their pet parents the priceless job of loving and caring for them, which comes with added bonuses like playtime, pets, and snuggles.

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Pets lower stress and depression

Simply spending quality time with your dog or cat can help make you feel happier, and there have been studies to prove this. According to research, social interaction with your dog increases the feel-good chemical oxytocin, which lifts your spirits.

Additionally, pets can help reduce stress. One study of 240 married couples found lower heart rates and blood pressure among those with pets than those without. The pet parents also experienced milder stress responses and a quicker recovery from stressors when they were with their pets even compared to a spouse or friend.

They bring you closer to community

Pets are great conversation starters, giving like-minded pet parents a beloved topic over which to bond. Simply walking your dog outside presents the opportunity to meet and chat with other people who also love dogs. Plus, there are countless online groups and communities devoted to pets (like our Facebook page!) where pet parents can share pictures, stories, and their love of pets.

person walking black lab dog on sidewalkPets get you moving

Regardless of their age, pets like to play and move. Though some dogs can’t walk as fast or as far, and some cats are more wild and free, all pets enjoy some level of physical activity. To get their daily physical exercise usually requires at least a little participation from their pet parent. From going out to the park, walking, jogging, throwing a ball or feather toys, or waving around a flirt pole, pets motivate their people to be active on a daily basis.

Knowing how beneficial pets are to our happiness just makes you want to go and spend more time with your beloved four-legger, doesn’t it?

Stacy Painter profile
By Stacy Painter

Stacy has always been an animal lover and has worked in the pet industry and pet insurance specifically for over a decade. As a writer since early childhood, content writing for Healthy Paws pet insurance was a natural career path to combine her two passions. She currently lives in Florida with her boyfriend and Taiwanese rescue dog, Kaya.

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