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Furry friends: the unsung heroes of the pandemic

If there’s been any silver lining to the stress and uncertainty of living through a pandemic, it’s having more time to spend with our pets. Our furry friends have been the unsung heroes of quarantine. Not only are they easier to get along with than some of our coworkers, they provide plenty of love and support while we’re social distancing.

Even before the pandemic, researchers have agreed pets provide many benefits that help us lead happier and healthier lives.

If you’re looking for relief from stress, anxiety and depression, you might find the help you need in your own home in the form of a wagging tail. In a survey of pet owners, 74% reported mental health improvements from pet ownership.

Caring for a pet can improve both your physical and mental health by:

  • Getting more exercise. Taking your dog for a walk is a fun and rewarding way to fit healthy, daily exercise into your schedule. Studies have shown that dog owners are far more likely to meet their daily exercise requirements.
     

  • Having a friend who’s always there for you. Companionship can help prevent illness and even add years to your life, while isolation and loneliness can trigger symptoms of depression. Caring for your pet can help make you feel needed and wanted, especially if you live alone.
     

  • Reducing anxiety. Your furry friend offers comfort, helps ease anxiety, and builds self-confidence if you’re anxious about going out into the world. Because our pets live in the moment, they can help us be more mindful and appreciate the joy of the present.
     

  • Adding structure and routine to your day. Many pets, especially dogs, require a regular feeding and exercise schedule. Having a consistent routine keeps an animal balanced and calm and it can work for you too.
     

  • Providing sensory stress relief. Touch and movement are two healthy ways to quickly manage stress and anxiety. Stroking your pet can lower blood pressure and help you quickly feel calmer and less stressed.
     

  • Giving a sense of purpose. Overburdened shelters take in millions of stray, abused and lost animals every year. By adopting an animal, you are saving a life and giving a neglected animal a second chance at a happy home. These rescued pets will repay you with limitless and unconditional love.

Don’t have a furry friend in your life, but would like to adopt one? Visit petfinder.com to see available cats and dogs in your area.

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