How Do Pets Effect Your Mental Health?

Nathan Kobuszewski and Luca Harlow-Rivas, Journalist

What does your pet do for you throughout the day? Do your pets make you happier and feel better as you come home to them and help you get a routine going or do they make you more stressed with extra chores and responsibilities? Many people own pets ranging from rabbits and birds to cats and dogs, but the effects of pets vary from person to person. It all depends on where they are in life and what their daily routine is like.

Pets can be very beneficial to your daily life, providing many health benefits and emotional benefits. Studies conducted by the NIH (National Institution of Health) have shown that interacting with animals can lower blood pressure and cortisol, a stress related hormone. Lowered stress levels and blood pressure help reduce strain on your heart, leading to overall improved heart health Studies also show that pets improve mood and feelings of support. Some hospitals even bring in animals to help patients calm down. Active dogs can help their owners stay active, keeping them healthy. Owning pets keeps people happy and gives them responsibilities to keep them productive throughout the day.

High School is stressful; worrying about grades, friends and managing schedules can make anyone overstressed. Pets can be very beneficial to high schoolers by giving them something to reduce stress as well as serving as a good way to learn responsibility. By forming a routine of caring for your pets, it can help you stop procrastinating and start being productive through learning to structure your time., It also provides companionship when your friends are too busy for you. However, finding the right pet is important, as each person has their own preferences. For example, Mr. Wood has a pet dog that his wife really likes, but he isn’t as big a fan. “He barks a lot which can be really annoying” he explains,  later stating, “I would love to have a cat; they just seem so much more calm.”  According to Mr. Wood, he sees his dog as mainly another chore, which results in  more stress than benefits. His preference for a cat instead showcases the importance of choosing the right pet. If you do want less responsibility, caged pets might provide a better outlet.  Connor Lavoie owns a bunny and two dogs, stating that the dogs give him more responsibilities to keep him busy. He notes, “I have to walk my dogs and do other stuff but the bunny I feed and that’s it”. Even though the bunny is less work, they all provide him emotional support and keep him accountable.

If you’re feeling extremely stressed throughout your day, feeling lonely with friends who are too busy for you, or just need something to help you get started with being productive, getting a  pet can make a massive difference in your daily life. It can be hard to find the perfect fit, but by visiting pet stores or friends who have pets, you can find your perfect match.