Who doesn’t feel great after patting a dog while you’re playing down at your local park? Well it turns out that happy feeling is the result of science. In what may seem like obvious news, BMC psychiatry has conclusively proved that there are profound mental health benefits to pet ownership.
The study highlighted the therapeutic benefits provided by pets to their owners, supporting previous research into the health benefits of having an animal to look after.
"Our review suggests that pets provide benefits to those with mental health conditions,” said Dr Helen Brooks of the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Psychology, Health and Science. “Further research is required to test the nature and extent of this relationship, incorporating outcomes that cover the range of roles and types of support pets confer in relation to mental health and the means by which these can be incorporated into the mainstay of support for people experiencing a mental health problem."
In her initial research, Dr. Brooks and her team have identified that some of the health benefits associated with pet ownership include increased exercise, companionship, increased social life, reduced anxiety and providing sensory stress relief. Even having a fish in the house can assist in mental health management, particularly in crisis management.
The new study also highlighted some negative impacts of pet ownership, providing a balanced study, however the benefits seemed to far outweigh the obstacles. Identified negative impacts on mental health included feelings of severe loss when you pet passes away, and feelings of burden and pressure in caring for pets.