Mental Health Benefits of Having a Pet

Pets are a great source of companionship, motivation, and comfort for their owners. These beloved animals, in a lot of ways, help their humans to achieve better mental health. The companionship they offer is a great way of reducing stress and anxiety.

The relationship humans and animals have with each other is powerful. It’s undeniable that having pets can result in a positive effect on mental health. According to a Harris poll in 2015, 95% of pet owners consider their pets as family, which is true no matter what age we have. Little kids, teenagers, adults, and elderly people all find delight in the company of their pets.

Research further proves the benefits of having pets to our mental health. Multiple scientific studies have proven again and again the benefits of owning a pet dog or a cat. According to the research results, pets help with stress, anxiety, and depression and ease loneliness and provide companionship. Furthermore, these animals bring us never-ending joy and unconditional love.

Scientists have long since discovered numerous connections between mental health and pets, which resulted in the development of animal-assisted therapy programs as a part of treatment for mental health. Also, humans benefit from keeping mental health animals like emotional support dogs.

The association of animals with mental health had existed way back in the 1990s when equine therapy programs were incorporated in teen mental health programs. The therapy program involves using horses in treatments. The connection between the animal and humans allows the teens to address their emotions. It’s done through a direct and strong experience of nonverbal communication.

Nonetheless, we can still experience the benefits of pet therapy in our homes every day.


Encourages Socializing

Taking walks with your pet usually leads to talks with other pet owners, which helps to keep their owners less withdrawn and socially connected. People involved in friendships and more social relationships tend to have healthier mentalities.

Reduces Feeling of Loneliness

Animals are great companions, pets especially. They provide people company and a sense of safety. Having pets give people someone they can share their daily routine with. Pets can be of valuable company to those who live or will live alone later in life.

Help in Depression

Pets also encourage people. Dogs are especially great at motivating their owners to exercise, which can benefit those who suffer from depression. Pets can also give a calming effect on their humans just by allowing them to sit by, play with, or stroke them. These actions allow their owners to calm and relax their minds. Caring for an animal also provides you with a reward and purpose, as well as a sense of achievement. Not only that, but it also helps you feel needed and valuable.

Decreases Stress Hormones

Studies on pets and mental health points that playing with animals and petting them decreases hormones related to stress. These benefits can occur even after just five minutes of interaction. It’s therefore concluded that pets are great for helping people who suffer from anxiety.

Playing with a cat or a dog increases our levels of dopamine and serotonin— the hormones that calm the nervous system. Every time we laugh and smile at the cute behavior our pets are exhibiting, we stimulate the release of the two “happiness hormones.”

Pets Help Children with ADHD

Children who have ADHD can significantly benefit from keeping and working with a pet. Taking charge of pet care tasks such as walking, bathing, and feeding helps a child learn how to plan and take responsibility.

Animals need to play, and doing so is a great way of releasing energy. Your child can burn off their energy by running around with a cat or walking a dog. This will make them more relaxed later in the day and at night. Fresh air and good flow from aerobic workouts increase the circulation of oxygen-filled blood to a child’s brain, increasing their concentration.

Children with ADHD are often used to their parents reprimanding them or calming them down. However, pets are great listeners and offer unconditional love without criticizing children for having a lot of energy. This can help in the development of a child’s confidence.

Pets for Autism

Children with autism commonly experience sensory issues. Sensory integration activities are made to help kids get familiar with how something sounds or smells and how it feels against their skin. Both horses and dogs have been used with this exact intention. Children with autism usually find working with animals calming.

It has been proven that for people with autism, having pets can decrease sensory sensitivity, increase their ability and desire to socialize with other people and lessen stereotyped behavior. However, additional research on this area is needed.