Pets and Mental Health

July 16, 2013

I recently had an emergency with my dog.  It was sudden and unexpected.  Sometimes you do not realize how much owning a pet benefits you until you are faced with the loss of a pet.  Pets truly become a part of the family.  I am thankful that my dog is doing better now but the crisis made me contemplate the benefits of having a pet in my life.

How can a pet in your life be beneficial?  A pet can make you healthier and happier.  Research has revealed the benefits of owning a pet.  According to Lea B. Jennings, author of the Potential Benefits of Pet Ownership in Health Promotion published in The Journal of Holistic Nursing, pet ownership provides an opportunity to improve health.

A pet can keep us more physically active, provide affection and comfort.  Pets can decrease loneliness and depression as well.  In fact, dogs are being trained to assist individuals with a range of disabilities, including seizure disorders, Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, and psychiatric disorders” (Sachs-Ericsson et al, 2002).  Service dogs are now being used to assist individuals living with mental disorders, including bipolar disorder.

Regardless if pets are trained for service or are just a companion, one thing is for sure, that they can make life happier and healthier.  I believe it is a privilege to have them in our lives.  I am blessed to be a pet owner.  How about you?  What are your thoughts on pets and mental health?

Sources and Links:

Potential Benefits of Pet Ownership in Health Promotion 

5 Ways Pets Can Improve Your Health  

Service Dogs for Bipolar Disorder

Mental Health Service Dogs

Service Dog Central