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why do pets make us feel good

The Secret Reason Pets Make You Feel Good

Need a pick me up to keep stress or sadness at bay? Book a bonding session with your pet!

Those of us with pets know they have a magical ability to make us laugh, smile or just be happy, and while you can probably think of a dozen ways they do this, you might be surprised to learn that hormones are involved.

Oxytocin is a hormone secreted by the posterior lobe of the pituitary gland. It’s sometimes known as the “cuddle hormone”, because it is released when people snuggle up or bond socially and can induce strong feelings of love and trust.

For a long time, oxytocin has been known as the link that bonds mother and child, but is it possible that that same hormone can bond pets and humans?

Studies point to yes!

Here are three ways pets and oxytocin spread happiness to humans:

  1. In a study where pet owners and their dogs had positive interaction for just 30 minutes, researchers found increased concentrations of oxytocin, beta-endorphin, prolactin, beta-phenylethylamine, and dopamine in both people and dogs. Increased levels of dopamine, prolactin, beta-phenylethylamine and oxytocin create feelings of happiness and gratification, while prolactin is commonly known to numb the body from pain, thus creating an overall mood boost.
  2. Better feeling and healing. Pets create a chain-reaction of happiness in their owners. If you’re feeling stressed or unhappy, pet a dog or cat (or a gerbil or a ferret). The simple act of petting an animal leads to key neurotransmitters firing in our heads, which leads to us feeling good. When we feel good, we smile. When we smile, others around us smile, too!
  3. An increased level of oxytocin also has the ability to reduce stress, foster social interactions and even helps us heal faster. A study found a correlation between increased plasma oxytocin following social interactions and wound healing. Researchers believe higher levels of oxytocin reduce inflammation, thus providing evidence that positive social interaction leads to a healthier lifestyle. Additionally, rises in oxytocin levels have the ability to relieve overall body pain, like headaches and cramps.

Personally, I make a habit of taking breaks to walk Chilly when I’m having a stressful day at work. I always feel refreshed and have a more positive attitude when I return. A walk with your pet can be especially helpful for older ones.

Happiness or healing is just a pet away. Share this post with a friend or family member who could use some oxytocin right about now. ☺

Download the FREE Cat Bonding Ebook

How about you? Ever felt the “oxytocin surge” after spending time with your pet? Share your stories or tips with us all below in the comments!

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Do your pets make you feel good? Here is why!

Kristen Levine is a nationally acclaimed pet expert, influencer, and Fear Free Certified® Professional with over 30 years of experience in the industry. She's helped millions of pet parents provide the best care at every stage of their pet’s life.

Her blog, Pet Living with Kristen Levine has been featured in Pop Sugar, Good Housekeeping, New York Times, USA Today, and more.

She's also the founder of FWV Fetching, the first marketing agency exclusively serving pet and animal health companies.

Her early work with the SPCA led her to a lifelong career in the pet industry, advocating for pet adoption and rescue as well as for pets and their parents here on her blog and in the media.

She’s frequently booked on satellite media tours and national shows, like FOX & Friends, Good Morning America, and Daytime, to talk about pet trends and new products.

Insanely passionate about pets since she was a little girl, Kristen has had more than 30 pets in her lifetime — including dogs, cats, goats, donkeys, a horse, a gerbil, mice, and chickens!

In 2022, she launched to help pet parents keep pet homes clean -- to love more, stress less.

Kristen is married and lives in the mountains of North Carolina with her dog Tulip.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Yes! I absolutely agree. I love taking my dog for a walk after a stressful day or feeling worrisome. I think it’s one of the best bonding exercises we can do with our pets. Walking our dogs is a great way to spend quality time with them. Seeing them smiling, wagging their tail, with their noses in the air…. I can’t help but smile knowing they’re happy!

  2. Yes very true. Pets bring so much joy into our lives without us even realizing it. They always accompany us and never make us feel lonely. Studies show us that pets are very good at managing our depression and loneliness. Also, the chances of decreasing our stress levels are very high, when we own a pet. For me, it is the bond and companionship I get from my animals. Also, it is a great sense of responsibility as it is up to me to give them the best in life which I find rewarding. If someone has mentally ill health they can also opt for an emotional support animal. A support system offers you a solution to your mental disturbances, and this is where an ESA proves to come in handy. When I was going through mental health problems I found this article very helpful in adopting my beloved dog as an ESA. It is a complete guide and through this, I got what I needed and I am much happier. A pet will always give you love and you will feel better and also can enjoy life more. This is the main reason that now people are getting curious to buy emotional support animals such as cats and dogs.

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