How Pet Ownership Can Improve Mental Health

There are many physical and emotional health benefits that come from sharing your life with a dog, cat, or other companion animal.  We all know how cuddling with a beloved pet lowers our stress, and walking a dog provides a great opportunity for exercise.

The mental health benefits of pet ownership can help people struggling with many different issues.  According to the Human Animal Bond Research Institute, having a pet can help with a wide range of problems, including:

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Childhood Development
  • Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia
  • PTSD and Trauma

Many evidence-based studies show that a pet can be an important component of your emotional well-being.

One recent British study of people with long-term mental health conditions found that pets are a “main” and not just a “marginal” source of support in mental health management.  Pets offer several benefits (particularly for people with limited social networks), including:

  • Providing a secure and intimate relationship not available elsewhere.
  • Helping people manage feelings by providing a distraction from upsetting experiences.
  • Providing an incentive for increased engagement and activity.

People participating in substance abuse treatment can also find pets to be very helpful in the recovery process.  Treatment providers outline such benefits as:

  • Improved social life.
  • Reduction of stress, anxiety, and depression.
  • Giving people a sense of purpose (especially when they adopt a homeless animal).

If you are thinking about opening your home to a new pet, make sure you fully understand the requirements of pet ownership first.  Check out this comprehensive guide on everything you need to know about pet adoption HERE.


8 thoughts on “How Pet Ownership Can Improve Mental Health

  1. My current and past parrot have meant so much to me. People don’t realize what wonderful companions they can be. I must note, however, that they (like dogs and cats) can sense when we are unwell, and it can be stress-inducing for them to a degree. I’m lucky that when I’m unwell my husband is a person that my pet depends on, too. During the worst of my illness I needed my husband to chip in with caring for my pet.

    • That’s a great point. Sometimes we are not in an ideal position to care for a pet that is sensitive to our distress. Always important to think carefully before bringing an animal home.

  2. While never being ‘officially’ diagnosed with any of those conditions, I can guarantee having pets has provided an incredible amount of positive emotional health (though some would argue against that). Having Sam & Elsa has been such an odyssey of trials, tribulations and some amazing realizations. Talk about being truly blessed! 💖

  3. This is 100% true. This is the first time in my life without a cat & I notice the difference in the absence of Spinner’s presence. It’s a feeling or the atmosphere it is not the same. Companion animals are amazing gifts to us in many ways.

    • Yes!! I remember when I lost my childhood cat when I was 20 years old. I felt such a void without him! Sometimes when you’re “between pets” you feel more free, but the desire to share your life with one always wins in the end!

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