This article is part of a running series with Rowan University’s Healthy Campus Initiatives. This collaboration aims to educate students about personal well-being options. For further updates, follow @RowanHCI on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.
Owning a pet comes with joy that radiates through the owner’s body when they come home to see them waiting at the door. The love that an animal has for its owner is very different from other loves that are experienced.
This love is unconditional. All pet owners have different reasons for their initial purchase, but as time goes on I think they can all agree, the pet becomes a part of their family and brings them joy and calmness like no other.
While service dogs have been a part of society for a while now and we have seen the positive effects of seeing eye dogs and dogs trained to sense a drop in blood sugar or an incoming seizure, now we have research on how they can help with mental health.
In recent years there have been more and more studies looking at how being a pet owner can positively affect our mental health and how to train dogs to support us emotionally. Emotional support animals do differ from service dogs. Service dogs are “trained to perform a specific task for their owner that requires training” while emotional support animals do not need to be trained to show compassion, cuddle or want to play. While emotional support animals may not be trained, they are still responsible for helping their owner. Whether it be a dog, cat or any other pet you have, “interacting with animals has been shown to decrease levels of cortisol and lower blood pressure” (2022).
There are still more studies being done to test animals in different situations and track the benefits of pet owning and pet therapy. So far, all signs point to animals positively impacting our lives and decreasing stress, anxiety and feelings of loneliness. So if you’re on the fence about getting a new pet, know that it comes with a lot more health benefits than you thought.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2022, July 26). The Power of Pets. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved September 29, 2022, from https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2018/02/power-pets#:~:text=Interacting%20with%20animals%20has%20been,support%2C%20and%20boost%20your%20mood.
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Jean Corcione, graduate student for MA in school psychology
Harley Sarmiento, senior sports communication & media major
Joseph Conte, junior community and environmental planning major