How Pets Affect Mental Health

By Sarah Wylde

In my every day journey of learning about my anxiety and depression, I have found that animals make a positive impact on my moods and overall self and mental health care. I have been fortunate enough to have had two cats and a dog at different times in my life that made an everlasting impact.

There is a strong bond that happens between person and animal that can influence our well-being in many ways. Whether they are pets or trained service animals, they help us in ways that we do not even realize. We depend on each other daily.

Here is a list of some mental health benefits that can come from having a pet:

  • It can give a sense of control when dealing with mental health issues, where it takes that feeling away. Caring for a pet provides security and a routine that you can do.
  • Hugging, petting, and even just playing with your loving animal friend, can instantly calm and comfort you when you are dealing with stress or anxiety.
  • You feel less lonely because you are not alone.
  • They help us be more social. When taking a dog for a walk or to a dog park, you meet people that have dogs and those that would like to talk to you about dogs.
  • For those that suffer from hypervigilance, having a pet can make them feel safe. Having a service dog gives extra safety to real or imagined threats because they know that the dog will alert them.
  • Animals show and teach us how to be mindful. They live in the moment, do not worry about what tomorrow will bring and enjoy what is happening at that moment.

Now, while the above benefits may have you wanting to go out and get a pet, there are things to think about and know before doing that for the benefit of the animal. This is not meant to discourage you; it is just so you are aware of what comes with having a pet in your life. If you are always busy and never home, so they would be alone at home, it would not be fair to them. Are you able to financially support your furry family member with providing food, vet bills, and overall care? Having a pet is a big responsibility because they depend on you.

If you are still considering it, you can always ask to walk a friend’s dog, look after a friends cat when they go on vacation, and volunteer at your local shelter.

Do you have an animal that helps with your mental health? Let us know in the comments below or on social media.

Until next time!

Sarah Wylde

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