Interaction with pets can play an important role in supporting our mental health and well-being. Whether through pet ownership or other animal-assisted activities, the human-animal bond can help:
Pets have been found to play a role in managing stress. Data indicates that people who share their homes with pets have healthier responses to stress, such as a lower baseline heart rate and blood pressure, and demonstrate less cardiovascular reactivity to, and faster recovery from, mild stressors.
In clinical settings, therapy dogs have been shown to significantly reduce anxiety levels in patients, in addition to lowering their blood pressure. Studies also show that including therapy animals in a medical treatment setting positively impacts caregivers by decreasing levels of emotional distress.
Experts have also found that animal-assisted intervention can support individuals during a time of crisis and assist professionals in providing trauma recovery therapy.
Studies show that Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) can be an effective treatment for reducing depression and improving mood, and many experts are starting to use AAT as a complementary option to enhance traditional therapy.
For pet owners, reduced feelings of sadness and depressions are also a proven benefit. Eighty-seven percent of pet owners reported mental health improvements from pet ownership.
Animal-assisted activities have shown to improve awareness and communication skills of elderly patients with dementia, and one reported increased levels of social interaction and decreased levels of agitated behaviors among patients following interactions with animals.
Depression, which can be caused by a dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease diagnoses, can be improved in patients through animal interaction. Many find that animal-assisted therapy improves depressive feeling and symptoms and the self-perceived quality of life.