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pet human health benefits

The Pet Effect

This coronavirus pandemic has affected everyone differently. But one thing we all share is an anxiety about our health, both physically and mentally, during this time. Physically, in that we can’t go about our normal exercise routines. And mentally, as we adjust to a more isolated existence.

Animal Adoption Rates Rising

Perhaps that’s why we’re seeing a surge in pet adoption and fostering of late. The trend is a major bright spot to some of the 7.6 million companion animals who enter shelters every year (per ASPCA, 2015). Since we have more time at home, go on more walks, and are looking for something to break up the monotony of our day, we’re turning to animals for companionship. But beyond companionship, there are many benefits of pets.

The Health Benefits of Pet Ownership

One survey found that 74% of pet owners reported mental health improvements from pet ownership. In fact, there is a whole body of human-animal research dedicated to studying the impact of this bond. There are physiological changes including alleviating stress, anxiety, depression, and reduced feelings of loneliness and depression when we bond with pets or therapy animals.

Of course, adopting an animal isn’t a short-term commitment. Before adopting, make sure that you have the time, money, and resources to appropriately care for an animal for its entire life. There’s exercise, training, trips to the vet, toys, grooming supplies, leashes, bedding, inoculations, spaying and neutering just to name a few of the expenses and responsibilities of owning a pet. Adopting an animal is a commitment for you and your whole family. Find a reputable animal shelter and consult your local, state, and federal regulations that govern animal ownership (like licensing) as well.

Assuming you have the resources and time to care for you animal, the health benefits are significant and the body of evidence continues to grow in support of our bond with animals.

Dr. Sonja Stilp is a physician and founder of RISE practicing in Boulder, CO. She provides personalized care and global healing for the athlete in all of us.  Sonja enjoys walking, hiking, and running with her family and doggie in the Colorado Rockies. 

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