The Power of Pets on Brain Health
Loving relationships are a key ingredient for a healthy life, and that includes the connections we share with our pets! But do you know just how powerful of an impact pets have on our overall well being, including brain health?
Ways Pets Boost our Health
According to Cleveland Clinic’s behavioral neurologist, Marwan Sabbagh, MD., “Simply petting an animal can decrease the level of the stress hormone cortisol and boost release of the neurotransmitter serotonin, resulting in lowered blood pressure and heart rate and, possibly, an elevated mood.”
But that’s just the starting point! Pets can also…
- increase our cognitive function
- lower our feelings of loneliness & depression
- decrease cholesterol & triglyceride levels
- boost our immunity
- improve our heart health
- keep us active & social
Isn’t it amazing just how much good the love of a pet can do for us?
Ready for a Pet? Opt to Adopt
If you have been considering getting a pet, and are ready to take on the responsibilities that comes with owning a pet for its whole life, I want to encourage you to adopt from a local shelter.
To see what organizations offer pet adoptions in your local area, simply Google “animal shelters near me” or “animal rescues” and your zip code for your nearest animal services shelter, Humane Society, or animal rescue to get started. Most of these shelters have their own websites and social media accounts with photos/profiles of their current animals available for adoption, but sometimes these are not fully up to date.
Another great way to view animals waiting for their forever homes is to visit Petfinder.com. It’s a website that will compile all the pets available in your area across many of the local shelters/rescues. Some shelters may not keep their Petfinder accounts up to date, so please keep that in mind during your search.
You can also call a shelter directly to see if they allow visitors to see the animals during the hours of operation or if you have to make an appointment.
If you already have a pet and are thinking of adding another to your family, be sure to arrange for a pet introduction at the shelter to make sure the two are compatible.
Volunteer for Added Cognitive Benefits
If you are an animal lover, but pet ownership is not for you, I encourage you to donate your time as a volunteer at a local shelter or rescue.
My daughter, Olivia, and I have been longtime supporters of our local Humane Society, adopting many dogs and cats over the years, as well as gifting monetary and item donations. Olivia spent many Christmas seasons making fleece tug toys for their canine residents.
When offering your time at a local shelter, you will reap some of the physical and mental benefits of being around animals, AND you will also receive the added cognitive health benefits that comes from volunteering! (Click HERE to read my fascinating article regarding volunteering & cognitive health.)
Shelters often need help with:
- Walking, playing & bathing the animals
- Helping with adoption events in the community
- Cleaning the kennels
- Assisting with visitors looking to adopt the animals
- In-taking of new animals
- Photographing the animals
- Updating their website & social media with animal photos & profiles
- Short & long term fostering
Chances are, the shelter has the perfect volunteer opportunity for your strengths. Let them know what you’re interested in doing, and they will put gladly put you to work!
Pets Truly are a Gift
Owning a pet and being around animals can add value and happiness to your life and is good for your overall health. It’s almost as if they’re magic! How lucky we are to be able to have such a special connection with animals. They are truly a gift!
Be sure to check out next month’s cognitive health article for another great brain health tip!
Want to view all my past cognitive health articles? Click this link – https://pameladixon.com/news/category/cognitive-health/.