By KATHRYN DOTSON
CHATTANOOGA, TN (mocsnews.com) – It’s no secret that pets bring so much to our lives – joy, happiness, and unwavering devotion. With the recent pandemic, the mental benefits of pet ownership have become even more valuable.
Pets fulfill the basic human need for a trusted companion, which is even more important in this time of social distancing. During stressful times, pet ownership can reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness brought on by quarantine.
A national survey of pet owners and non-pet owners, conducted by the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) and Mars Petcare, found that 85% of respondents agree interaction with pets can help reduce loneliness.
Along with reducing feelings of isolation, cats and dogs also provide a plethora of health benefits. Pet ownership can reduce stress, improve fitness, increase serotonin levels, and create an unbreakable bond.
“Studies have shown repeatedly that people’s good mood increases and bad mood decreases around pets,” said psychologist Harold Herzog. “And so we know that there’s immediate short term benefits, physiological and psychological, with interacting with pets. I have no doubt about that.”
Pets provide their owners with ways to implement daily exercise routines and stay physically active. By needing to be walked and played with consistently, pets make sure their owners also get in some exercise, fresh air and play. Staying physically active with your pet may even boost your immune system.
With the addition of COVID-19 and quarantine, this year has proven to be immensely more stressful and isolating for college students. Owning a pet provides students with a safe companion and helps them release feelings of stress, anxiety, and loneliness.
Pet ownership provides constant reassurance during these stressful times. Shianne Vincent, a student at UTC, talked about how her dog, Smokey, helped her through quarantine.
“Smokey never turns against me and is always by my side no matter what,” said Vincent. “He’s helped me during this pandemic by taking my mind off of things and getting me outside. I’ve really gotten to bond with him through quarantine.”
Pets provide their owners with unbreakable companionship and love. Their reliable companionship and consistent routines offer mental and physical relief during these uncertain times.
October is National Adopt a Shelter Animal Month, and shelters are filled to the brim with loving and caring animals ready to be adopted. Many shelters, such as McKamey Animal Center in Chattanooga, are providing people with safe ways to adopt animals.
If you have the resources, consider fostering or adopting an animal during this time. By saving an animal, you might just find that you were the one who needed saving all along.