Four Ways Pets Can Improve Mental Health

mental health, pet therapy, depression, anxiety

Many people who have dogs, cats or other animal companions will tell you how much joy their pet brings them.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, studies have shown that the bond between people and their pets can increase fitness, lower stress and bring happiness to their owners. And there’s no special training required – for either the pet or the owner!

“People are already familiar with the benefits of therapy dogs trained to provide comfort and support at hospitals, schools and senior living communities,” said Kathy Burnett, LCPC, with Memorial Behavioral Health. “But there are a lot of positive benefits ‘ordinary’ pets at home bring to family members as well. Owning a pet can improve your mood, reduce social isolation and help you stay more active.”

Here’s how:

  1. More physical activity. Owning a pet often means regular physical activity, particularly when walking a dog or playing with a cat. Regular physical exercise can improve both physical and mental health.
  2. Lowers stress. Interacting with and petting an animal produces a physiological response that can help reduce stress levels.
  3. Build relationships. A pet can help you 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 can be a treatment option.

Learn more about mental health services at Memorial Behavioral Health.

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