Four Ways Pets Can Improve Mental Health

Many people who have dogs, cats or other animal companions will tell you how much joy their pet brings them. There is also research that backs up the benefits of having a pet on mental health.

“Many people are familiar with the benefits of therapy dogs that are trained to provide comfort and support at hospitals, schools and senior living communities,” said Kathy Burnet, LCPC Memorial Behavioral Health Counseling Associates. “But you may not be aware of the mental health benefits of having a pet at home. Owning a pet can improve your mood, reduce social isolation and help you to stay more active.”

Here are some ways that a pet can improve your mental health:

  1. More physical activity. Owning a pet often means regular physical activity, particularly when walking a dog. Regular physical exercise can improve your physical health and your mental health.
  2. Reduced stress. Interacting with and petting an animal produces a physiological response that reduces stress levels.
  3. Build relationships. A pet can help you with relational development and increase your social network by interacting with other pet owners and your neighbors.
  4. Alleviate depression. For people who have depression or a mood disorder, animal-assisted therapy is a treatment option.

Need support?

Learn more about services at Memorial Behavioral Health.

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