Pets-Lending a Helping Paw for Your Mental Health

Pets-Lending a Helping Paw for Your Mental Health

We know by now that pets have a positive impact on mental health, but how far does this impact actually go?

Millions of Americans decided to adopt pets during the COVID pandemic in order to help them cope with stress and isolation. For years, dogs have been known as “Man’s Best Friend”, but recent studies show that not only dogs are beneficial to health. Here are a few ways that animals can help:

  • Pets require constant physical activity. Dog owners are likely to take their pet out every day for a walk or run. This can be a fun way to fit exercise into your routine.

  • Our pets make us feel needed. With the responsibility of having a pet in your home, we gain a greater sense of meaning and purpose.

  • Boosting self-confidence. Pets can be great listeners, offer unconditional love and won’t criticize you. This can help your self-confidence, especially if you feel isolated or misunderstood.

  • Pets also are proven to lower cortisol, the stress hormone. They also increase the production of oxytocin, a chemical that lets the body release stress naturally.

  • They sometimes help us meet new people. Dog owners often stop and chat to each other on walks. But other pets can be a way to meet people too: in pet shops, training classes or online groups, for example.

  • Service dogs can help alleviate symptoms in veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

  • People with ADHD can benefit by having the structure of the pet, helping them keep track of time.

  • Pets also give Autistic individuals the confidence, reassurance, and social skills they need.

Please note that owning a pet is a many-year commitment. While we love the power of pets here at G3, we don’t want to advocate that someone get a pet just for the mental health benefits.

Luckily, if you’re not ready for your own pet, you can still benefit from some puppy love. Here at Galvin Growth Group, Animal-Assisted Therapy will soon be available! Meet our new friend, Lexie! She is undergoing training for this exciting role.

For some people or groups, animal-assisted therapy can be a beneficial strategy. In those with autism, medical illnesses, or behavioral challenges, a meta-analysis of 49 trials on animal-assisted therapy indicated excellent effects and overall improved emotional well-being. Another assessment of randomized, controlled research discovered that animal-assisted therapy can aid those suffering from depression, schizophrenia, or addiction.

Here is an NIH article on the power of pets.

Psychology Today has a great article on animal-assisted therapy.

Contact us at (734) 323-4897 or for more information! And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Instagram to see our “Lexie Tails” – we share regular updates on Lexie’s training and life.

Links are not sponsored.

By: Grace O’Neill