Brooks HL The power of support from companion animals for people living with mental health problems: a systematic review and narrative synthesis of the evidence. BMC Psychiatry. 2018; 18

Tomlinson C Social play in senior dogs: ‘not just a young dog's game’. UK-Vet Companion Animal. 2019; 24:150-5

Mental wellbeing

02 March 2019
2 mins read
Volume 10 · Issue 2

We recently acquired a puppy: an energetic 9-week-old black and white Staffie, full of the joy only possible in a young life filled solely with positive experiences. She approaches everything with curiosity, energy and a pure sense of fun. She makes us all smile with her antics; we are proud of her intelligence (she has already learned to sit); we love her already.

A paper published last year in BMC Psychiatry reviewing 17 studies concluded that, as long believed, pets provide benefits to human mental wellbeing. From the 15 studies that indicated a benefit to owning a pet, a number of themes emerged, which the researchers termed Emotional, Physical and Biographical. In short, pets were shown to alleviate worry; provide comfort; and mitigate against feelings of isolation and loneliness. Pets were able to provide unique emotional support as a result of their ability to respond to their owners in an intuitive way, especially in times of crisis and periods of active symptoms (Emotional). Pets had an impact on physical activity and distracted people from symptoms of illness (Physical), and pets acted as conduits to social interaction and provided emotional nourishment (fostered interaction with friends and family, and a sense of belonging to a community; Physical). Owning a pet gave people a sense of self-worth and meaning (Biographical) (Brooks et al, 2018).

Register now to continue reading

Thank you for visiting The Veterinary Nurse and reading some of our peer-reviewed content for veterinary professionals. To continue reading this article, please register today.