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Five ways your pets can help reduce stress and boost your mental health

Five ways your pets can help reduce stress and boost your mental health

In the hustle and bustle of daily life, finding moments of peace can seem like a difficult quest. However, your four-legged (or maybe even feathered or scaly) friend is right there to offer a soothing respite from the daily chaos. Pets aren’t just cute and cuddly; they can actually do wonders for your mental health.

As a child psychologist, there is nothing quite like the joy of returning home after a day of working with patients at the hospital. The moment I step through the door, my heart lifts as my dog rushes to greet me with kisses and a wagging tail at full speed. It’s an instant stress-reliever. My furry companion’s unconditional love and presence remind me of the positive impact pets have on our mental wellness.

Here are five amazing ways your pets can help boost your mental health. Whether it’s a wagging tail, a gentle purr, or a warm cuddle, the power of pets to heal and nurture our minds is truly remarkable. 

  • Unconditional love and companionship: Pets offer unconditional love and companionship, serving as loyal confidants who provide comfort during difficult times. Coming home after a hard day at work to a friendly and happy pet can instantly uplift your spirits. They don’t care about the details of your day; they simply shower you with love and excitement. This recognition of their support for you is a perfect way to focus on your animal and find solace in their presence. 
  • Stress reduction through playful interaction: Engaging with pets through physical interaction, such as petting or playing with them, has been shown to release endorphins and promote relaxation. Taking a few minutes to sit and stroke your pet can create a mindful connection. Pets have a remarkable ability to evoke emotions and offer solace. Petting them not only alleviates stress for you, but also conveys appreciation and care to your furry companion. In turn, this creates a mutually beneficial dynamic that proves to be beneficial for both you and your pet.
  • Routine and Responsibility: Caring for a pet introduces a sense of routine and responsibility into your daily life. Incorporating pets in coping strategies can be beneficial. Dogs, for example, require regular walks and feeding schedules, which can help establish structure and purpose to your day. Additionally, taking care of your pet can provide a positive focus outside of work-related stressors, as you witness the positive impact your care has on their well-being as well.
  • Increased physical activity: Pets, especially dogs, can motivate and encourage regular physical activity through walks, playtime, or interactive games. Going for walks with your dog helps you break away from work-related tasks and immerse yourself in the present moment. Leisure activities not only benefit your pet’s well-being but provides an opportunity for you to enjoy the outdoors. Engaging in physical exercise improves heart health and helps alleviate stress. The bond you share with your pet during these activities further boosts your mental well-being.
  • Emotional support and confidentiality: Pets can also be great therapists in their own unique way. They are perceptive to your emotions and provide comfort without judgment. Sharing your raw emotions with them allows you to express yourself freely, knowing that they will not disclose your secrets to others. They offer a safe space where you can be vulnerable and talk openly, relieving emotional burdens. Their non-judgmental presence and ability to keep your conversations confidential make them trusted companions in your journey to better mental health. Show your pets how much you appreciate them as much as they appreciate you!

Pets have an incredible ability to reduce stress, boost mental health, and provide a sense of emotional well-being. If you are considering adding a pet to your life, remember that responsible pet ownership requires commitment, care and attention. However, the countless benefits they bring make the experience truly rewarding, transforming your stress-filled days into moments of comfort and joy.

To learn more about Mental and Behavioral Services at Children’s Hospital New Orleans, visit:
Mental and Behavioral Health Services | Children's Hospital New Orleans (

This blog is dedicated to the memory of Jacquesimo, the finest four-legged support companion.