Kelly Monroe and I have an ongoing feud about who has the best pet. Kelly contends that her dog, Marley, wins that discussion hands down. While I love my cat Calvin. Which pet is the best looking might be a matter of opinion. However both cats and dogs can be good for your mental health.
Dogs can ease loneliness, reduce stress, anxiety and depression, promote social interaction, encourage exercise and playfulness, and provide unconditional love and affection. Dogs provide valuable companionship. When my father died eleven years ago my mother was very lonely. Eventually she decided she wanted a dog, just to "have another living being in the house with me," she told us. So the search was on for the right dog for her. Eventually we found the perfect little white fluffy dog that provided the perfect match for her needs. Kelly looks forward to getting home every evening to take Marley for a walk and often lets us know about his latest antics first thing in the morning.
Cats too have been shown to be a source of comfort, companionship, and help reduce stress and anxiety. This has been referred to by some as "purr therapy." Both of my daughters were fairly high strung as children. We were amazed at how just having a cat around seemed to calm them down. Even today, as young adults, when the girls come home for a visit they'll greet us as they walk in the door, "Hi Mom. Hi Dad. Where's Calvin?"
Playing with a dog or cat can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, which calm and relax.
Pet owners have lower levels of triglyceride and cholesterol levels.
Heart attack patients with dogs survive longer than those without.
Dogs and cats fulfill the basic human need to touch. Stroking, hugging, or otherwise touching a loving animal can rapidly calm and soothe us when we're stressed or anxious. The companionship of a pet can also ease loneliness.
Chicf Rick Skilliter and his wife Merri have a therapeutic dog that is part of the therapeutic dog corp at Lima Memorial Hospital. These dogs are specially trained to be with people who are experiencing trauma and stress and their owners are very devoted to their animals and the loving work that they do.
Maybe you don't have a pet. Volunteer at the humane society or an animal shelter. My daughter, Stephanike, just moved to Chicago. She can't have a cat yet so she is volunteering at a cat shelter just so that she can have regular contact with the animals she loved.
You can get a lot more information about the health benefits of a pet at: www.helpguide.org