Study Confirms Pets Help People With Mental Health Issues

Anyone who has a four-legged best friend will tell you that they make their lives better. But, is that really the case or are we looking pet ownership through rose-colored glasses?


With the sudden rise of popularity for therapeutic and emotional support pets, many wonder if it’s all just an elaborate scam to take your pet everywhere with you, or is there any real basis to the claims. After all, there were so many cases of people passing off their furballs as service dogs that nineteen states had to introduce bills just to penalize them. But, the potential for misuse aside, a new study suggests that companion animals really do have the ability to help people in need.


A team of researchers from the universities of Liverpool, Manchester, and Southampton, set out to review all evidence they could muster and found that pet companionship can genuinely benefit people living with mental health issues. The paper included 17 studies that were focused on the influence of pet ownership on people, including positive, negative and neutral impact. And the researchers left no stone unturned: they analyzed the role of pets in overcoming an emotional crisis, as well as the psychological impact of losing a beloved pet. The findings revealed that not only there are real benefits pet ownership can bring to people with mental health problems, but those benefits significantly outweigh the potential downsides.


Of course, there is still need for additional research in order to ascertain what roles could therapeutic pets have and what is the best way to include them in the traditional course of treatment. But what remains unchanged is the fact that having a pet does have a positive impact, and that their beneficial influence is even more felt when you’re dealing with mental health issues.



Cats, dogs, and animal companions of all shapes and sizes can provide emotional support to their owners, and that kind of unconditional love is something that can’t be found elsewhere.

Angela Vuckovic
Angela Vuckovic

A proud mama to seven dogs and ten cats, Angela spends her days writing for her fellow pet parents and pampering her furballs, all of whom are rescues. When she's not gushing over her adorable cats or playing with her dogs, she can be found curled up with a good fantasy book.

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