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TWO REMARKABLE WAYS PETS CAN BENEFIT MENTAL HEALTH

Dr. Bryan Deptula
Dr. Bryan Deptula

By: Rebecca Kazenoff

COVID-19 sparked a desire for companionship during a very isolating time, creating a rise in business for animal shelters. The good news is that the purpose animals served during a dark time was great enough for most to keep their furry friends even as the pandemic has begun to taper off. As the world enters a transitional period, it still isn’t too late to adopt a pet 
1) Social Leverage 

Consider pet-owning as an excuse to socialize. According to Psychology Todayhuman interaction and building connections increase one’s levels of the hormone oxytocin, or “cuddle chemical,” an aid in decreased anxiety and more skillful coping (Pets for Patriots)Beyond dog parks and dog walking, consider taking your pet on vacations and other destinations by researching where is dog and pet friendly. By doing so, there are more opportunities for meeting other pet-owners and forming new relationships. Check-out pet-friendly spots in Rehoboth here. 

Dog on Beach

Taking care of a dog or loved one, affirms to those suffering with their mental health that if they can take care of others, then they can take care of themselves too. Caring for another creature holds a person accountable in being responsible and pro-active, prompting their own introspection of their self-care. Further, being dependable can help one’s self esteem by showing that they are wanted, needed, and have a reason to get up every morning. 


Pets also help us be more mindful. They are a constant reminder of how minimal they live, not stressing about the past or future. Giving a pet your love and attention is a way for people to be more mindful, forcing one to get off one’s phone, and experience joy in real-time. Owning a pet can also help get owners into a routine. 
study published in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology “found that family routines help to moderate impulsiveness and oppositional symptoms and traits in children.”

When anxiety among children was further analyzed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention preformed a study that showed “21 percent of the children who did not have a pet dog tested positive on a screening test for anxiety...but only 12 percent of children with dogs tested positive for anxiety.(source). This shows the benefit pets serve with childhood anxiety, affirming how a parent may want to adopt for bettering the mental health of their offspring. 

2) A Cure for Loneliness  
Girl with Pet dog on the beach

Animals are a catalyst for obtaining better mental healthThe act of simply petting a furry companion releases serotonin that a person wouldn’t have had otherwise. This continual serotonin release can benefit the mental health of pet-owners long-term.

 

Their nonjudgmental predisposition can help owners feel less alone and more appreciated. BarkBox’s study proved this through 85 percent of their participants sharing that their dogs helped them through a difficult time in their life” (Source: PetsForPatriots.org) 

Pet owning, specifically of dogs, encourages exercise. The New York Post states that dog owners are four times more likely to meet their fitness goals, showing how much more dog-owners move their bodies, optimizing their endorphin release. Pet owners also spend significantly more time in nature than non-dog-owners. This time spent outdoors has proven to help distract from negative thoughts, reduce one’s cortisol and adrenaline levels, lower blood pressure, and increase vitamin D intake. Children who are raised with a dog are also seen to grow up being more active being accustomed to the playfulness and liveliness that a pet brings to a home. 

 

Dog interaction alone can boost a person’s oxytocin and dopamine levels. The bond created with one’s pet affirms unconditional love that can alleviate feelings of depression and anxiety. Of the roughly six million cats and dogs brought into shelters annually, less than 50% get adopted (Source: Petpedia.co). Knowing the mutual benefit of owning a pet, let’s try and combat that statistic. Save the life of an animal and gain the reward of stronger well-being and unmatched companionship.  

 

At Canalside Inn, Rehoboth Beach Delaware, we take extra steps to ensure you can enjoy your amazing vacation with your pet by your side! We’ll even take your dog on an adventure if you need some time away! 

 

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