The relationships between people and animals have long been explored, researched and celebrated. No doubt, animals are adorable (hence the millions of pet videos going viral), and there’s no doubt they bring families across the world a tremendous amount of joy — but can they really impact our health?

More than ever before, pets have become important companions and valued family members in homes around the world. Aside from their constant companionship and playful demeanor, pets can offer a positive effect on our mental well-being, from adults to children. Through scientific research focused on human-animal interaction, we know that this companionship provides a host of benefits – both to the people and animals involved. Having a pet can help our mental health in a number of ways:

  1. Pets help improve owners’ mood and emotional management,
    and provide a powerful distraction from the stress of having a mental health problem: Studies have found having pets has resulted in reduced feelings of loneliness, depression, worry and irritability, and increased feelings of calmness.
  2. They can create a sense of routine:
    Establishing daily routines is a great way to function at your highest capacity, both personally and professionally. Having pets can help with those routines, fostering responsibility, steadiness and a sense of purpose.
  3. They offer companionship and support:
    Living with a pet means you’re never home alone. Pet owners say they feel less alone compared to people who don’t own pets, and pets can also help connect people in a community.
While pet ownership is a large commitment and should be taken seriously, the benefits to our health cannot be overstated. The bond between a pet and its owner can be beneficial on both sides in so many ways, and unconditional love is one of the top reasons people choose to take on the responsibility of having a pet.

How science supports pets to improve mental health