Owning pets benefits owners

Megan Baxter, Photography Editor

Taking care of an animal teaches responsibility and stimulates feelings of trust, companionship and openness. Pets help people live mentally happier lives in many ways and are a great source of comfort and motivation for their owners.

Research suggests that the hormonal changes which occur when humans interact with animals, help people cope with depression and stress-related disorders. The primary “feel good” hormones released while interacting with animals are serotonin, prolactin and oxytocin.

Photo By Rosie Nichols
Wally is just one of many pets that make many people happy, and improve their health.

The connection between animals and humans

The human-animal bond is a mutually beneficial relationship that positively influences the health and well-being of both human and animal.

“I feel it is important to not only regularly interact with your animals, but treat them nicely and with care. My bond with my pets is something I’ll never have with any person I know,” junior Henry Kruse said. “The connection of mental health and animals is almost undeniable in the sense that most people not only like animals but think of them as another member of their family.”

The better we understand the human-animal bond, the more we can use it to improve people’s lives and help people manage their long-term mental health conditions. The pet effect is a research study dedicated to studying the health benefits of human-animal interactions. Specifically, pets and therapy animals can help alleviate stress, anxiety, depression and feelings of loneliness and social isolation.

Emotional support and therapy animals

Pet therapy interactions are used to benefit patients mental, social and physical functions.

“I’ve seen many people with therapy animals, which really help to calm them down, this shows how much an animal is able to improve our mental health,” Kruse said.

Animals play an important role in assisting people with disabilities and providing therapeutic activities. Emotional support animals assist through companionship and help ease anxiety, depression and certain phobias. Emotional support animals do not need certification, whereas therapy animals are trained to provide affection and comfort to individuals in stressful situations or disaster areas.

I can have a bad day and when I come home and see my cats, they make me relaxed and help keep me grounded.”

— Staci Brown

Health benefits of owning animals

Animals can provide their owners with numerous benefits, including improving emotional and physical health.

“Animals are beneficial for mental health because they provide companionship and support for situations where you may not want to have human interactions,” junior Sophie Mcafee said.

Cortisol is a hormone that has a very important role in helping the body respond to stress. The higher the levels, the more stressed an individual is. Animals relieve and reduce stress in many specific ways: they lower blood pressure, inspire us to exercise more frequently, increase feelings of self-esteem and help reduce the tendency to focus on past mistakes or worry about future problems.

“I can have a bad day and when I come home and see my cats, they make me relaxed and help keep me grounded,” veterinary science teacher Staci Brown said. “Animals really help soothe you, so I think it’s important to have a connection with one.”

Communicating with and petting an animal helps decrease your blood pressure and increases the bond between both human and animal. Animals can teach you valuable characteristics such as patience and helps restore mental energy.

Having a companion animal close to you, or even thinking about an animal, has the effect of lowering stress and increases the chance of having a mentally happier life.