Pets and Their Extraordinary Mental Health Benefits

Have you ever had such a rough day - from the moment you got out of bed and stubbed your toe and realized you were late for work to the moment you got home after a tedious day at the office? It's almost like we all live the same life sometimes.

There's no denying the mental demands and strenuous tasks each day brings but did you know owning a pet can make things better?


Pets inspire us to be present.  

It's challenging to play with, feed, or even walk your pets while in tune with your cell phone or even your own mind. According to the popular psychology blog 'Psych Central,' dogs can teach us a lot about living in the present moment, as they always are themselves.

If there's one thing our society has deemed necessary, it's the go go go of daily life.

It's hard to remain present when we are frequently in 'go mode' so our brain becomes so accustomed to planning the future, thinking to the next thing in our day, and simply not remaining in the moment you are in.

According to renowned psychology magazine 'Psychology Today', each moment you are mindful, your brain is strengthened. Nerve pathways in your brain are rewired, and the habit of mindfulness becomes just that, a habit.


Pets decrease stress hormones.

Being around animals has been proven repeatedly to reduce cortisol levels, which is a stress hormone. Stress leads to elevated heart rate, so at the same time, blood pressure is lowered.  

When we have heightened levels of cortisol, the ability of our body to heal itself becomes impaired, our immune system is weakened, and sicknesses come easier. Our pets can literally save us from becoming sick.

MedicalNewsToday conducted an excellent study about animals and cortisol levels. They found that people who interacted with dogs and cats had significantly lower cortisol levels than those who did not.


Pets reduce loneliness.  

A growing issue with the rapid rise in technology is loneliness. Research from Mars Petcare and the Human-Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) shows that most Americans suffer from loneliness. The study also shows that having a pet significantly reduces loneliness and the sad and depressing feelings derived from loneliness.

I don't know about you, but I immediately feel so much better when I walk in the door and see my dog. I not only feel companionship, but I also feel a sense of safety that comes from having a dog.

Owning a pet can also widen your circle of relationships, as you'll meet people at the dog park or on a walk and can form connections.


Animal support is commonly used to bring a sense of comfort and support.

Have you ever been to a school or visiting someone in a nursing home, and suddenly you see some dogs?

Dogs are used in these environments to reduce the anxiety and stress that people often feel here. Dogs can bring a sense of peace and presence to a setting, leading to better learning. Dogs are sometimes used in nursing homes to combat feelings of isolation and loneliness and provide comfort.

Dogs are in tune with our emotions and are easily able to detect if we are feeling sad or upset. Have you ever noticed your pet come nuzzle you at the exact moment you needed them to? That’s the magic of your animal’s intuition.


Pets supported millions of humans’ mental health during the Coronavirus lockdown.

UK scientists from University of York and Lincoln took data from a group of 6,000 Britons, a percentage of which had a furry friend and a percentage of which did not. What they found was that having a pet drastically helped people cope with the isolation of quarantine during the coronavirus.

People who had pets were less likely to get depressed and found daily tasks easier to navigate through during the pandemic. They also found that these owners stayed more active than non-pet owners during the quarantine.

Psychologists and scientists are always researching on further ways pets can benefit mental health, but the evidence we have so far is quite a bit. The next time you're around your pets or any other animal, give them a quick thank you.




Mars Petcare and HABRI. Addressing the Social Isolation & Loneliness Epidemic with The Power of Companion Animals. Summit on Social Isolation and Companion Animals. A report by the Consortium on Social Interaction and Companion Animals. May 7, 2019.