Apartment Living BlogApartment Living › Four Mental Benefits of Owning a Pet

Pets can bring plenty to a renter’s life. They’re always there when you get home. Dogs give you a great chance to walk outside and meet your neighbors. And few things beat snuggling with a cat. And not all of this anecdotal. Science has proven that owning a pet has mental benefits, too. We spoke with Steve Feldman, executive director of nonprofit Human-Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) and Sally Morgan, who practices holistic physical therapy for pets and people, on the positive aspects of owning a pet how pet ownership can lessen stress.

Alleviating Stress, Decreasing Anxiety

“There are many mental health benefits of owning a pet that have been scientifically documented. From alleviating stress, anxiety and depression, to improving life satisfaction and overall happiness, people of all ages and health conditions can benefit from companion animals and human-animal interaction,” says Feldman.

Boost Your Happy Healthy Hormones

“People are happier and healthier in the presence of animals,” says Feldman. “Positive human-animal interaction has been shown to influence levels of blood pressure, heart rate, hormones correlated with well-being including cortisol, oxytocin, b-endorphin, prolactin, phenylacetic acid and dopamine.”

Just how does this happen? By touching your animal.

“Stroking a pet’s fur, or gazing into the eyes of your dog in particular, releases oxytocin (the trust hormone) and serotonin (the feel-good hormone) in both you and the pet. This counteracts depression, improves feelings of connection and happiness, and builds your relationship with your pet,” says Morgan.

Decrease Stress

“Interacting with a pet or therapy animal causes an increase in oxytocin levels in the brain, causing many psychological changes, including slowing heart rate and breathing, quiet blood pressure, inhibiting stress hormones and creating a sense of calm, comfort and focus,” says Feldman.

Feel Less Lonely

Another benefit of owning a pet? A better social life.

“While pets are themselves provide meaningful companionship and support to their owners, pets are also catalysts for friendship formation and social support networks. Studies have found that pet owners were significantly more likely to get to know people in their neighborhood than non-pet owners,” says Feldman.

How does owning a pet help people feel more connected to those around them?

“Taking your dog for a walk not only gives you both exercise, but it is a great way to improve your mental clarity and decrease your stress level. For people who live alone, a walk with a pet can become a chance to socialize and interact with other. For elderly, research has shown decreased depression in those with pets and decreased loneliness,” says Morgan.

Discover more about the best and worst pets for apartment renters in this post https://www.forrent.com/blog/apt_life/best-worst-pets-for-apartment-living/.

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Ever since I first started writing for my middle school newspaper, I knew that I was born to tell stories. Well, that and travel. I've been fortunate enough in my professional life to combine both loves. My work has appeared on sites like USA Today, Fast Company, Racked, Refinery29 and The Daily Meal. I enjoy covering lifestyle topics like food, fitness, travel and decor. When I'm not writing or travelling, you'll find me reading books, playing with my two Chihuahuas, exercising or searching for my next great cup of coffee. I've never met a cupcake I didn't like. Visit Chocolate and Chihuahuas

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