Pet Effects On Mental Health

1466 Words 6 Pages
Pets are often considered beloved members of our family. Besides being adoring friends that live in our homes, pets are also known to have beneficial effects on our health. One particular area of research that is being expanded is the effect that pets have on our mental health, as well as their usefulness as a form of therapy. We are already seeing service animals trained to deal with specific types of mental illness, but even animals undesignated to service seem to provide benefits just by living alongside humans. Just how much do pets support and improve our mental health, and how effective are pet-based therapies? Participants in a STARS (Study of Transitions & Recovery Strategies) study were surveyed after a period of time with their pets …show more content…
For example, pet owners have lower blood pressure and heart rate levels compared to non-pet owners, including lower blood pressure increases after a stressful task (Allen K, 2002). Pet owners are also associated with more civic engagement and social capital (Wood et al., 2005). However, the subjective nature of studies can be problematic. People who participate in these studies are usually pet owners who volunteer themselves, which results in self-selection of participants that are already content with the ownership of pets. Even in studies where participants are introduced to pets, results rely on questionnaires where participants attempt to quantify emotions such as happiness or …show more content…
There has been a focus on the elderly rather than the general population. It is also uncertain the effect that different types of pets may have. Another problem is the unstructured nature of pet-owner interactions. These interactions need to be observed in a natural, rather than clinical, environment, but this also means there are more factors that could interfere with the results. There are differing family sizes, wide age ranges, different neighborhoods and household structures, and varying breeds of even one type of animal; these are only a number of what might affect the study. The inability to have a fully controlled environment makes it more difficult to try to establish a causal

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