If you have ever owned a dog then you know the absolute joy and unconditional love they can bring into your life. But did you know you that you can stand to gain a lot more from a furry friend? Animals can boost our mood, ease loneliness, keep us active and decrease stress and anxiety. Here are a few ways having a dog or cat can enrich your life:

They Add Purpose to Our Days

Owning a dog comes with a lot of responsibility and commitment, this is partially where the benefits come from. Being forced to go for walks and get into routines surrounding our pets brings extra meaning to our lives. Caring for another living creature makes us feel needed and fulfilled, and helps us to wake up with purpose and drive.

They Improve Our Mental Health

  • Studies show that dog owners are less likely to suffer from depression and have less anxiety than those without pets.
  • Playing with an animal can increase levels of the hormones serotonin and dopamine, allowing us to become calmer and more relaxed.
  • Pets and Learning Disorders: pets can help children with learning disabilities regulate stress and calm themselves. Playing with a dog can help a child stay alert and attentive.
  • Pets and Dementia/Alzheimer’s Disease: patients suffer less stress and have less outbursts if there is a dog or cat at home. Dogs provide a source of positive, nonverbal communication – this can help decrease aggressive behaviour.

They Can Provide Therapy for Seniors

  • Pet owners over the age of 65 make 30 per cent fewer doctor visits than those without pets.
  • The American Heart Association has linked the ownership of pets, especially dogs to reduced risk of heart disease and greater longevity.
  • A lot of the time, the worst thing seniors suffer from is not a physical health problem – but loneliness. The people that were once around or the children they once cared for are not available to touch or talk to. Being able to pet or snuggle up with a dog can provide stimulation and warmth.
  • Pets can fill both an emotional and physical void, having a companion that depends on you and loves you unconditionally can be a wonderful experience.
  • Patients who are regularly visited by pets are more receptive to medical treatment and nourishment.

Dogs have evolved to become attuned to our behaviour and emotions. They can understand the words we use, interpret our tone, body language, and gestures. Simply being around something warm and alive can work wonders on our mental and physical health.

Pet ownership can impact where you choose to live. You should consider if your pet will need a yard, or if they have difficulty with stairs. As well, some condos have restrictions such as pet weight or number of animals allowed per suite. If you would like some advice on pet-friendly housing options, contact me at 416-921-1112 or mail@ellidavis.com.