Having a pet in our home does more than just make us happy. Pets can make positive impacts on a child’s development, while also improving the entire family’s physical and mental well-being.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studies have shown the bond between people and their pets can improve quality of life by decreasing blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and triglyceride levels, as well as reducing feelings of anxiety and symptoms of PTSD. Pets also offer opportunities for exercise and outdoor activities, better cognitive function in older adults, and opportunities to socialize for all ages.

Pets do have their own needs. When children set up and follow a schedule for feeding, grooming, and exercising a pet, they learn life-long lessons of responsibility while finding stability and predictability in life. For anyone who lives with anxiety or depression, these routines offer an important feeling of control.

Living with a pet can reduce the feeling of being alone. A dog or cat is always there with a greeting when we come home at the end of the day. Pets can also help us connect with other people around us, as you may run into neighbors while on a walk.

Scientists from Washington State University found simply petting a familiar dog lowers our heart rate, slows breathing, and relaxes muscle tension––all while decreasing levels of cortisol levels, a significant stress hormone. Those experts say that effect can happen in as little as 10 minutes with a pet.

Our pets are more than sweet and snuggly; they are scientifically proven to improve our lives and take care of us while we care for them.

This article was provided to Kids Directory by the staff of Burrell Behavioral Health. Burrell’s staff of professional care providers believe in making behavioral healthcare accessible and compassionate, serving with excellence and integrity.