The Love Hormone…Happy Valentine’s Day!

I’ve been thinking about how grateful I am to be a pet parent this week. The unconditional love and companionship of my four-legged family members is one of the best things in my life — it’s unlike any other feeling…Coming to this realization sparked my science-brain, and sent me on a research mission.

And I found some interesting stuff.

As much as I LOVE sharing new studies, I try to avoid overwhelming you with scientific words and facts in these emails. My newsletter is one of my favorite ways to connect with you… and that’s not as easy to do if I’m putting you to sleep!

…But this fact is just plain cool.

It all begins with a hormone called Oxytocin.

Otherwise known as “the love hormone,” oxytocin tells us to bond and feel affection.

Now here’s the cool part: A study at the University of Colorado measured Oxytocin levels in pet parents compared to people living without pets. Can you guess what they found?

Quality time with animals may increase your Oxytocin levels.

Yes! Just spending time with your pet — whether you’re cuddling, playing, or petting — can give you a rush of those warm feelings.

Another study, published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, showed that, when compared to people without pets, pet parents actually experience lower levels of stress after or during major troubling events.

And that’s just ONE of the ways that being a pet parent can lift your spirits!

We’ve known for decades that both exercise and the great outdoors can boost your mood, right?

Well, over the last year, experts in publications like TheWell, RunnersWorld, The University of Chicago, and even Forbes have decided — we need to get out more. That’s right, exploring the outdoors, for even 20 minutes a day, can seriously improve your health.

Walking your dog can be a fun, safe way for you (and your family!) to get up, get out, and stay active while you practice social distancing.

Other people are catching on, too. It’s NO WONDER shelters saw a huge spike in adoptions in 2020!

Rescues all around the United States are receiving thousands of adoption applications every week since the first stay-at-home order… and there’s still no shortage of dogs, cats, or other companion animals in need of safe, loving homes.

Even if you’re not in the position to adopt right now, many shelters are still allowing “walking visits,” which gives both you and the pups a chance to get out and get moving.

Yep! You read that correctly. Most shelters often allow volunteers to visit just to take unadopted dogs on a walk.

And hey, you could even snap a pic of the pup you’re visiting and post it on social media to inspire others and increase Fido’s chance of adoption! (If you do this, tag @drjeffspets on Instagram so I can see it, too!)

It’s a win-win for both of you!

You can check out my friends, Best Friends Animal Society, to learn about the rescue effort happening around the country and find adoptable pets in your area.

From my pack to yours,

Dr. Jeff Werber, DVM

P.S. If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety or depression during these strange, isolating times, visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) online for information, resources, and to find support.