How Pets Can Support Your Mental Health

By: Zarina Novruzova, reporter

When we think of pets, we immediately think: cute, fluffy, and loving! But few people know that they are also a great outlet for relieving stress. Recent studies have shown that human-animal relationships can be beneficial for sustaining mental health.

Pet owners are less likely to suffer from depression or loneliness. Companionship can prevent any depression related illnesses that result from isolation. They can also relieve anxiety and build confidence for people who are nervous to be out in the world.

Pets can also help people make healthy lifestyle choices. Having a dog means taking it out for a walk or a run everyday. This is an opportunity to add exercise into your daily schedule. Studies show that dog owners especially are more likely to meet daily exercise measures and many who adopted a dog also lost unwanted weight.

Pets can also add a routine to your day. Since animals require regular exercise and feeding times, a consistent schedule would be constructed! Having a persistent schedule will help you feel calm and less stressed out.

Several schools are now incorporating service dogs to help students with their mental health. Research shows that therapy dogs can be a source of connection to students in difficult times and provide emotional support. Video Production and Journalism Teacher Mrs. Sweikert said, “Palo Verde High School has a service dog in training whom she watched this weekend.”

Dogs and cats aren’t the only animals that can positively impact your health. Rabbits, birds, fish, snakes and lizards are also great alternatives, especially for those allergic to dogs or cats; these options can interest owners with their exotic beauty or are easy to take care of.

Birds can serve as a great companion with their long lifespans, and teaching them tricks promotes healthy cognitive function. And fish, just by keeping and watching fish has been proven to calm your heart rate and reduce stress.

Knowing this, there is a whole other reason to love your friendly pets even more!

Pet owners can benefit from their pets not only by their playfulness but also from mental health benefits they provide!

Photo Credit: Zarina Novruzova

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