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  • Writer's pictureNAH Admin-Coordinator

A Pet's Effect on Mental Health


When you’re having a bad day, there’s nothing quite like coming home to a pet that is excited to see you. Whether it be burnout at work, a bout of anxiety, or heavy depression leaving it hard to get out of bed, a recent study from the American Psychiatric Association has shown that caring for an animal can improve humans’ mental health. Check out how exactly pets can help your mental health below, in celebration of Mental Health Awareness Month:


Pets provide companionship.

A common feeling that can sometimes accompany anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions is loneliness. The presence of a pet in the house can combat this by providing a sense of having something to come home to and share your life with. Pets provide unconditional love, which gives their humans a sense of feeling wanted and needed - especially when they get excited to see their humans when they come back after a day out of the house. Can you say built-in best friend?


Pets help to increase your physical activity.

Physical activity has been shown to improve mental health, and pets can play a big part in this! Dogs require regular walking, while cats require litter box cleaning - both of which are activities that require you to move your body! Additionally, getting up and playing with your pet not only promotes physical activity, but strengthens your bond with your furry friend as well. 


Pets provide structure.

Caring for a pet requires creating a schedule for their feeding, playtime, walks, and sleep. The daily routine of caring for and training your furry friend helps promote focus and a sense of purpose. Even on your worst of days, there truly is always something to live for.


Pets are great listeners.

In a world where it is easy to feel misunderstood or alone, a four-legged companion can provide a listening ear that will not judge you or talk back. When you need to vent, a pet is always there to support you, promoting self-confidence.


Pets promote friendship with other humans.

There’s no doubt making new friends as an adult can be hard. Owning a pet welcomes you to a brand new community of people who also love to discuss their pets and are happy to connect over a walk with their dog or a visit to the dog park. 


Regardless of if you choose to welcome a pet into your life, we know that mental health can be a challenge for everyone. If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, visit www.namigainesville.org/resources/resource-list/ for mental health resources specific to Alachua County.


In a mental health crisis, call or text 988 to be directed to the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.

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