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A Shoulder to Lean On: Our Pets and Stress

They always seem to know when we need them most. Our furry friends tend to be our rocks when we are stressed, anxious, or sad. How do they know, though, when we need them?

Learn all about our pets and stress, and how they are always attuned to what we need.

How They Know

Animals are, by nature, very instinctual. This means that they are very aware of environmental cues and changes. So, while Fido or Fluffy may not understand your words, chances are that you are giving off other signs that you are stressed.

Ways that your pet may pick up on your stress level include:

  • Verbal cues (Yelling in particular, but any changes in tone can be tip-offs)
  • Your facial expressions
  • Alterations in your routines (decreased sleeping, for example)
  • Restlessness
  • Differences in eating habits

Whether you like it or not, you behave differently when emotions are running high and your pet can pick up on that. Studies have shown this time and time again. Dogs are more likely to approach a person who is crying than talking, act more submissive around sad people, smell chemical changes in the body associated with health, and can anticipate your reactions. Our pets seem to know far more than we give them credit for.

The Facts About Pets and Stress

The relationship between pets and stress runs both ways. We know, for example, that pets who have stressed owners are more likely to experience stress-based medical conditions, such a digestive problems or compulsive behaviors.

We also know, however, that owning pets can have some very positive effects on stress in our lives. The American Institute of Stress reports that having a relationship with an animal can be very beneficial for overall health. Having a pet has been associated with:

  • Decreased blood pressure
  • A sense of purpose
  • Decrease in loneliness
  • Increased confidence
  • Lowered anxiety
  • Decreased incidence of depression

The human-animal bond is a powerful thing, and it can benefit our health and well-being in some amazing ways. Chances are, your pet shows you that he or she cares every day if you are paying attention.

Our pets are our foundation, and for many of us they are a critical part of our happiness. West Park Animal Hospital is proud to play such an integral role in contributing to the health and well-being of these amazing creatures. We hope that by improving their health, we can indirectly help to better yours as well.

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