Pets and Their Effects on Mental Health During the Lockdown

One of the most fascinating studies in healthcare news today is research surrounding pets and how they are linked to better mental health during the pandemic. Studies from physicians and other healthcare professionals from the University of York and the University of Lincoln have shown that better mental health is linked with owning and taking care of pets.

These same studies show that pets are an effective way to reduce loneliness as well, especially during the pandemic. A survey of over 6,000 respondents was conducted as part of this study, with 90 percent of them owning at least one pet (regardless of species). 

The statistics

90 percent of respondents said that their pets helped them cope emotionally with the pandemic, and 96 percent said that their pets helped them keep fit and active. 

On the other hand, 68 percent were worried about their pets’ well-being, citing the reduced access to veterinary care and the limitations on walking and exercise. Many of these respondents were afraid that, should their pet become sick, no medical care would be available to them. A good number of them also worried about what would happen to their pets should their humans become infected. 

The bond between animal and human was the key

Humans who reported a stronger bond with their pets, whether it was a cat, dog, guinea pig, or fish, also tended to report better mental health. The study proves that a pet can provide a buffer against the psychological stress of these difficult times.

That said, it is still important to address the medical needs of pets during the lockdown, as this was the number one concern of many pet owners, making it an additional source of stress. The lead author of the study, Dr. Elena Ratschen from the Department of Health Sciences of the University of York, even went so far as to say that it is “…important to ensure that pet owners are appropriately supported in caring for their pet during the pandemic.”

However, pets aren’t the solution

However, Dr. Ratschen continued to say that it is also important to understand that people should not be treating pets as a solution. Pets should not be acquired during the pandemic, and that this study should not warrant any suggestion that pets can solve someone’s mental health problem.

The study further illustrated that obtaining a new pet during the pandemic might not actually have clinical significance, as the respondents in this study had already owned the pet even before the pandemic began. 

Past studies have been showing it for a while

Past studies and healthcare news stories have also shown that pet ownership was linked to better mental health, even before the pandemic. Some even discovered that pet owners were less likely to have high blood pressure and more likely to have better cardiovascular health. 

Statistics have even shown that heart attack patients with pets tend to live longer, according to studies by physicians associated with the American Heart Association. It seems there is no end to how the loving bond between humans and pets can improve the lives of both.

Final thoughts 

Humans are naturally suited for socialization, no matter the species. The affection of a pet can improve your mood and mental health, and it is fully possible for them to improve your overall health. However, it is important to remember that pets come with their own concerns and shouldn’t be obtained for the specific purpose of solving your mental health problems.

If you’re looking for more resources on mental health and support from your local physicians in New Jersey, send us a message at Garden State Medical Group. We have the knowledge you’re looking for to deal with all your health issues in better ways. 

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