As Thanksgiving draws near, we take the time to reflect on our blessings and what we’re thankful for: family, friends, a roof over our heads, food to eat, and warm clothes. As pet owners, we’re also thankful for our furry friends. Besides unwavering adoration and unlimited affection, what makes you grateful to be a pet owner? While the benefits of pet ownership are infinite, here are just a few to make you cherish your pet even more:

#1: Increased activity
It’s tough to find the motivation to exercise, especially as chilly winter conditions draw near. With the help of your four-legged friend, you have an encouraging workout buddy who will nudge you into sticking to your exercise goals. Regardless of weather conditions, a rousing game of fetch, a stroll around the block, or a play session with a toy mouse is always in order to keep your pet happy and healthy.

#2: Socialization opportunities
As texting and social media take over real-life interactions, it can be challenging to form connections with new people. Pets are excellent ways to cross barriers. Dog parks, animal shelters, pet-friendly events, and yes, even social media groups are wonderful ways to meet new friends with similar interests. We’ll admit—at parties, you can find us in the corner snuggling the host’s dog, but pets are great ice-breakers and can get a conversation flowing.

#3: Mental health boost
Interacting with your pet, even through simple petting, raises the oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine levels in your brain, boosting those “feel good” endorphins. Pet ownership combats anxiety and depression by increasing your feelings of well-being when you care for your beloved companion.

#4: Physical health perks
Besides the increased exercise you receive by playing with your pet, you also experience a few changes in your physical health. Owning and caring for a pet reduces your blood pressure and risk for heart disease by lowering triglyceride and cholesterol levels.

With so much to be thankful for when you gaze into your furry friend’s eyes, be sure to keep her in tip-top shape so you can enjoy her company for years to come. Call to schedule a wellness visit to ensure continued health and happiness.