Pets Are 'Soul' Food

Updated: Dec 27, 2018

Pets Enhance and Extend Our Lives

It’s true….pets make us calmer, reduce our stress, improve our mood, lower our blood pressure, improve our heart health, and even enhance our social lives.

Have you ever had a moment when you were sad, or mad or even crying? And in the midst of your despair….as if from out of nowhere, your pet emerged by your side, nuzzling you gently? How did that make you feel? Did it change your mood, redirect your focus, stop your crying? Chances are good that it did! Pets are not only calming stress-diffusers, they are “food” for our souls!


Studies have shown that the simple act of petting your dog or cat has calming properties on you, and even results in the release of a relaxation hormone. Pets can also give people a sense of meaning and belonging, perhaps because they depend on us for their own survival. “We found that pet owners…were better off than non-owners…” says pet researcher and professor of psychology Allen R. McConnell of Miami University.

Physical Activity/Blood Pressure

On average pet owners get more physical activity than their non-owner counterparts. Daily walks, playing fetch in the park, laser tag with the cat….these all contribute to getting folks up and out of their recliners! And more physical activity even leads to an improvement in blood pressure.

Heart disease

Studies have shown that heart attack survivors and people with serious arrythmias live longer when they own a pet versus people with similar conditions who do not own pets.

Social Connection

Doctors tell us that pet owners are generally happier and less lonely than those who don’t have pets. It’s true that social barriers are lowered just by the simple addition of a pet. Where normally social interaction may not occur between two strangers out for a walk, people are more likely to stop and say “hello” when they see a pet on that walk. If you don’t have a dog, borrow one and take a walk in the park and see if it isn’t easier to strike up a conversation with a stranger. Pets improve our social lives!

Watch for more articles on our blog about how pets extend and enhance our lives. They really are ‘food’ that nourishes the soul! Dr. Lisa Mandelin

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