The positive effect of pets

University of Buffalo ASDA members enjoying the company of therapy dogs

Live, laugh, love. How many times have you heard that phrase? It encompasses the core components of “wellness,” but at times we find difficulty achieving it. In dental school, we can become so busy that we forget to eat. How can we balance life, work and happiness? One easy answer is pets or animals in general, especially the cute and furry ones.

Pets are the under-appreciated, better half of humans. Nearly 60 percent of United States households have at least one pet. This provides some indication pets improve well-being. You do not have to be a pet owner to reap the wellness benefits. Volunteering at an animal shelter or pet sitting for a friend can provide positive pet experiences. This post serves as a reminder to reflect on the unconditional love pets provide. Interaction with animals can relieve stress and help you get through difficult dental school days.

My cat Tiggy napping with her carrot toy

LIVE: Pets serve as a daily reminder that your presence is needed. Without owners, who is going to feed or walk them? When dental school becomes overwhelming my cat, Tiggy, reminds me to not be so selfish. Her demanding meows for dinner, scratches behind her ears and playtime have been a surprising blessing. Pets can add structure and meaning to life when it seems like your world is falling apart. Whenever I feel disorganized and scattered, Tiggy’s schedule helps me get back on track. Pets will dictate when you wake up, eat, do your homework and when you return home.

ASDA Wellness at Buffalo offers highly sought-after therapy dog events featuring cute pups. Their wagging tails remind students of the good things to come after a tough week. The dogs bring happiness and calmness to an otherwise hectic schedule.

Buffalo ASDA members enjoying their lunch break with the therapy dogs

LAUGH: There is no doubt that pets increase our serotonin and dopamine levels, by bringing laughter to our lives. After all, what is the first thing a pet owner does after discovering their dog has dug through the trash can? Or when their cat has knocked off every cup, spoon and vase on the table? Take out their phone and share it on social media. I have been guilty of this myself. It is impossible not to feel amused by my cat’s eagerness and lack of remorse for eating all my plants. I laugh at her despite knowing I will be spending the next fifteen minutes cleaning dirt out of my beige carpet. Pets unite us through laughter over their antics.

All you need is a pet of your own or some funny pet videos to improve wellness. Here is a link to a video of ten dogs in trouble that is guaranteed to make anyone smile.

Tiggy keeping an eye on the neighbors

LOVE: We give, they give. Our jobs are simple compared to theirs. We feed them, give them a home, spoil them with treats and comfy pet beds that they refuse to use. They listen to our woes and look at us with understanding in their eyes. They love us unconditionally, all the time.

We must remember to love our animal companions and appreciate them for the life, laughter and love they give to us. Without pets and animals being cared for by organizations such as the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), it would be much more difficult for us to find the balance between life, work and happiness. Giving back to your pets and to animals at animal shelters is worth your time. I guarantee you will have a more positive outlook towards your day-to-day activities. Without a doubt, pets relieve stress, add structure to your schedule and improve wellness.

 

ASDA’s Wellness Month is generously supported by ADA student members insurance plans underwritten by Great-West Financial.

~Shelby Lee, Buffalo ’20

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About Shelby Lee

Shelby Lee is a current 2nd-year dental student at University at Buffalo. During her free time, she likes cooking, playing with her cat, and doing outdoor activities!

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