Mental Health and the Positive Effects of Pets
Written By: Sheena Hirschfield, BS, MBA - Pet Health Pharmacy
Pets bring out the best in their owners and the people around them. A recent study done between Miami University and Saint Louis University found that pet-owners had higher levels of self-esteem and conscientiousness than non-pet owners, and were more apt to be less lonely and less fearful. It is common to find seeing-eye dogs and K9 police dogs, but what about service dogs for something even more common, mental health?
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), a whopping 18.6% of adults in the United States deal with some form of mental illness. Service dogs can be trained to specifically help those with psychiatric disorders, seizures, anxiety, autism, and even diabetes. Dog ownership has also been tied to possibly helping veterans recover from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
An article from CNN interviewed a man named Sgt. Charles Hernandez and his Labrador Retriever, Valor. In the article Hernandez refers to Valor as his personal physician. Valor would pull him away from conflicts, alert him to seizures, and jump on him during an anxiety attack to calm him down. Between Valor and medication, Hernandez says that the combination has helped his symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder.
While some are skeptical about the healing powers of pets, the remarkable stories and benefits are hard to ignore:
Love and Compassion: Pets have an ability to create love and companionship unlike anything a human could replicate. Many struggling with mental illness strive for that bond and interaction that a pet is able to provide them.