With many needing to self-isolate as a result of COVID-19, it’s no surprise pet adoptions have increased dramatically over the course of the pandemic. And who doesn’t like to see someone’s pet pop into frame on a video call? Animals are adorable and make us smile. They’re part of our families and provide companionship. Having a pet can provide a number of health benefits, provided you don’t have an allergy to them!

Pets lower rates of depression and anxiety. Playing with pets can elevate levels of the “happy” hormones serotonin and dopamine, which help elevate moods and assist in feeling calm and relaxed. Pet interaction can also help lower the stress hormone cortisol, which can lower blood pressure. Caring for pets can add structure and routine to the day, giving individuals who may be elderly, depressed, or ill a sense of purpose and responsibility.

In addition to helping owners to feel calmer, pets also encourage exercise, keeping you healthier by boosting your energy and your immune system. Pet owners have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels (indicators of heart disease) than those without pets. They can also help increase survival rates of individuals who’ve had heart attacks. Pet owners over 65 make fewer doctor visits than those without pets. Increased endorphins from interacting with pets can help with reducing pain. Individuals with disabilities or chronic illnesses and those going to therapy have all benefited from having a pet around.

As non-judging companions, pets can help boost self-image and sense of worth. The emotional attachments we form with pets can also help us better relate to others in a social fashion and reduce the feeling of loneliness one might experience. They can be a great ice breaker for conversation with other humans.

Not to mention, unconditional love and support from an animal companion never hurt anyone.