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Mental Health Benefits of Pets

There are so many of us who have pets that we call family! Did you know that owning a pet can have positive mental health benefits? Pets can be used for a variety of mental health conditions. It is not uncommon to hear about the benefits pets have for those who experience PTSD, depression, anxiety, stress, or grief.

According to a poll done by the American Psychiatric Association, 86% of pet owners said their pets have a positive impact on their mental health! Broken down further, 69% said pets helped reduce anxiety and stress, 69% felt their pets provided unconditional love and support, 69% identified having companionship, 66% said their pets have a calming presence, and 63% felt their pets are true friends (1).

Therapy with animals can take different forms. It can be experienced through equine assisted therapy, which is therapy using horses. There is also animal assisted therapy, which can be done with many different types of animals. Psychiatric service dogs can be trained to help you with your mental health condition. For instance, for someone who has panic attacks, the dog can be trained to identify when the panic attack is coming on and what to do to help support them. Lastly, the companionship offered by a dog, cat, or other animal snuggling up with you in your own home provides its own stress relief.

There are many different therapies and supports out there to assist in supporting your mental health. A pet is a big responsibility, so it is always best to consider the pros and cons. If you are having a hard time figuring out if a pet may be a good fit for you, do some research and consider talking to a pet owner to get their perspective and experience.

In my own experience, I know that after a long day it is always nice to come home to my sweet cuddly dogs that provide me with comfort and support. There’s just something about these attentive and loyal friends that make the day better!


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