Owning a pet can be a lot of work, but what most people don’t know is this work can greatly benefit a person’s mental health. Not only do pets provide us with a ton of entertainment and joy, they may also provide several benefits to any owner’s problems with depression, anxiety, ADHD and stress.
How Pets Can Help With Depression
A pet can be a great source of comfort for their owners, especially when you’re feeling down. The companionship of a pet can help reduce loneliness and keep your mind busy with a sense of purpose. Owning a pet forces you to go out in the world to care for your furry friend, whether it’s walking your dog or going out to get them food. This dependence may keep you from withdrawing from everyday life.
Pets may also provide a great deal of emotional support—you ever notice when your feeling down your dog or cat will almost always be found by your side? They pick up on these things and it can be a great help for anyone feeling depressed or very down. Not to mention they’re a constant source of entertainment! Feeling down? Play with your pup or watch your cat get into their everyday hyjinx. Not only does outside playtime provide you with healthy vitamin D exposure, it may help take your mind off of whatever is bothering you.1
How Pets Can Help With Anxiety
No matter the anxiety, pets can provide a great deal of help for whatever is making you anxious. Taking a dog out for a walk can be a great way of helping owners deal with anxiety of leaving the house, it keeps the owners active, and may help deal with any social anxieties.2 Dogs are very social creatures and will constantly look to meet new people or other animals, they can also be a very convenient ice breaker when trying to make new friends!
Just the simple act of petting an animal has been found to greatly decrease anxiety in people. The act of repetitive physical touch of fur keeps the mind calm for both you and your pet, and helps keep you relaxed and distracted. On top of that—it can also help you to keep an eye on your dog’s skin and coat health.
How Pets Can Help With ADHD
Owning a pet can be a lot of work as well as a lot of fun. People with ADHD tend to be easily distracted or unable to stay on task. Owning a dog or cat can help to keep the owner focused on a mutually beneficial routine.3
For pet owners with ADHD, the dependence of a pet may help you stay organized to make sure your pet is happy and healthy. Not to mention a dog or a cat will make you very aware if their needs are not met, either by barking or whimpering, and that can help keep you present and attentive to their wants and needs.
How Can Pets Help With Stress
No matter how hard you try to avoid it, we will all suffer from a bit of stress at some or many points of our lives. There’s no way to avoid it but thankfully, owning a pet can help deal with any stress you might endure.
Sometimes we can be so overwhelmed with stress, we can’t quite think straight. It affects our ability to engage in tasks and even focus on unwinding. As with anxiety, petting your furry companion while under stress can help you to stay calm and organize your thoughts in a clearer way.1
Another benefit of a owning a pet is that they’re great listeners! Your cat or pup won’t judge you and will listen to every little detail of what is stressing you out. Sometimes, people just need to vent and your pet will always be there to listen.
Another great way to deal with stress is to simply play with your pet. They love playing and it can help keep your mind off of whatever is stressing you out and it will provide great entertainment.
Owning a pet can be a wildly fulfilling experience for anyone’s life. Pets can be a bit of work but after those stressful days and tough nights, the work is super beneficial to a healthier mental state. Whether it’s dealing with depression, anxiety, ADHD, or general stress, caring for pets as therapy can yield so many benefits to an owner’s mental health and general well-being.
- Hark, Danielle. “12 Ways Your Pet Can Improve Your Health.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 7 Dec. 2017.
- Sandoiu, Ana. “It's Official: Pets Benefit Our Mental Health.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, 19 Feb. 2018.
- “Pets and Mental Health.” Mental Health Foundation, 20 Nov. 2017.