Why Do We Love Animals?
Is there anything that can make us collectively say, ‘awww’, like a video of a puppy or kitten? Nothing can melt even the hardest hearts like the cuteness overload of a furry animal! The bond between man and these creatures has transcended through the eras; times when they were domesticated merely for convenience. They were used to hunt, for protection, transport and food. Today, they are placeholders as loyal companions and in some cases; they are a necessity to our well-being. Guide dogs and therapy animals are an integral part of survival for those with physical or mental challenges. Just running your fingers through your pet’s fur instantly calms you down. Those with pets will know the priceless moment of returning home to them after a long day. No matter who you are, what you have done or how you feel, they will greet you with the utmost affection. So why do we love animals so much? Well, we have two words for that – Unconditional love!
These are a few ways in which pets make our lives so much happier:
1. Pets Are Great Stress-Busters!
All pets, including dogs, cats and hamsters bring comfort, support and joy to our lives. Interacting with them for even a few minutes increases the production of serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin in the brain – so you can’t help but smile! At the same time, your cortisol levels drop and anxiety is pushed out of your mind. Simply observing your pet can lower your heart rate and restore a sense of peace.
2. They Encourage A Healthy Lifestyle
To most people, their pets become their children and they would go above and beyond to tend to their needs. Pets like dogs as well as a few cats (yes, it’s true!) need to be taken out on regular walks or runs. This is an exercise for both the human and the animal, which releases natural endorphins and keeps the body fit!
3. Pets Cultivate Social Skills
Pets appeal to our sense of empathy. Their innocence teaches us compassion and forgiveness – especially the naughty ones that rip up the pillows and chew your shoes. They teach us how to care for another life beyond our own demands. This is especially true for children; venturing into the world with a pet gives us opportunities to meet new people with pets too.
4. They Are Great Companions
With the recent lockdowns, many of us have found a deeper appreciation for our furry companions. This connection between us and our little buddy overcomes feelings of loneliness and isolation. Pets, unlike some humans, are fiercely loyal and stay by our side through thick and thin. They wield their own forms of non-verbal communication with us. When you are feeling low, do you think your pet can tell? We do.
5. Pets Enhance Awareness
Have you felt the weight of your worries dissipate when you have a kitten in your lap? Pets force us to fully embrace the present – And why wouldn’t we want to make the most of every moment spent with them? Our pets grant us their undivided attention which compels us to be as mindful as they naturally are. They receive the most pleasure from the simplest things in life, and witnessing this in them can heighten the same in us.
6. They Keep Us Disciplined
As adults, one of the foremost skills we require is discipline. It can be hard to stick to a routine when we have no one to be accountable to. Animals, however, are creatures of consistency. They need to be fed at regular timings, given sufficient exercise and playtime to stay happy. These habits enable us to form structure in our lives as well. Even if you don’t want to get out of bed that morning and your puppy cries, you know you’re heading straight for that food bowl!
7. Pets Alleviate Physical And Mental Disorders
Additional research is necessary on the mechanisms behind the benefits animals have on human health; but so far, there are promising signs. In one study, children with autism spectrum disorder and ADHD were calmer and showed fewer behavioural issues while playing with guinea pigs in a classroom. Another recent experiment showed that teenagers with type 1 diabetes were better at managing and reviewing their blood sugar when they had to care for a pet fish (1).
There is no denying it – pets have powerful impacts on our lives. They elicit tender, kind reactions out of humans and teach us invaluable lessons by just being themselves. Just remember, the love that pets bestow on us is a gift. One we must give back wholeheartedly and extend to the people around us!