The Benefits of Pets for Teenage Mental Health

By: Vivian Shillingsburg

As a teenager myself, I know that life can be really stressful. Balancing school, sports, friends, and time to yourself can be extremely difficult. It seems to be impossible, however, I’ve noticed that everyday when my dog greets me at the door, and I sit down for a moment to pet her, all of that stress seems to fade. I never really noticed it, but as I’ve started high school and the days seem to get shorter, I’ve cherished the time with my dog more than I did before. I decided to look into why this was. 

The most commonly known health benefit of owning a pet is decreased blood pressure. When you pet your dog or cat, it has a calming effect, just like meditation. It releases dopamine and serotonin, which are the same hormones that are released when nicotine is consumed. Dopamine and serotonin are the hormones that make us happy and help us to regulate healthy social behavior and stress levels. When these two hormones are released, your blood pressure decreases, along with your cholesterol, and even your triglyceride levels. The release of these hormones also has a positive effect on your mental health. As I mentioned before, they make you happy and less worried about everything else going on. They practically force you to focus on the positive. They also help you to motivate yourself and push you to be more productive. When you’re petting your dog, cat, bunny, or any other pet you have, you immediately feel relieved. When you’re doing homework, and your dog comes over and licks your hand, or your cat brushes its tail against your leg, you’re undoubtedly happy even if it’s only a little bit. If you really paid attention, you would feel your heart rate drop to a steady, resting beat and your muscles feel less tense. Next time you’re swamped with work and can’t seem to have just a moment to relax, take a minute or two to cuddle up with your pet on the couch and just breathe. You will be more productive and less stressed.

Owning a pet has many mental benefits. It is common for teens to feel lonely or like they don’t fit in. Pets have an unconditional love for their owners that is like no other. Animals like dogs and cats can sense when you’re upset or lonely, and they are good at curing those emotions. They seem to know nothing but how to love you. When you’re down, the best medicine is your pet. That genuine consideration that your pet holds for you can make you feel so much better. When you come home from a bad day at school, the best feeling is when your dog greets you at the door ready to cover you in love. A pet is the best companion to have. They are always there to listen. It sounds crazy, but talking to your pet about your day really helps. If you have to vent about someone or something, go to your pet. They won’t encourage your negativity, but they won’t disagree with you either. If you’re overwhelmed with homework, talk out what you have to do with your pet and try to make a plan. It will help you get your work done faster, and you will be more organized. As silly as it sounds, it really does work. Give it a try!

If you don’t have a pet, don’t worry! You can use this article to try and convince your parents to get one. Parents love when kids do research on something they want and can explain how getting a pet could benefit them as well as you! 

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