Pets improve mental health in so many ways… particularly for kids with special needs, anxiety or depression.
We’ve watched my son flourish thanks to his connection to our beloved dogs.
They’ve allowed him to emotionally connect.
Our dogs give him ongoing comfort.
I really cannot imagine our family without our precious Lucy and Maggie May.
5 Ways Pets Improve Mental Health
In a number of my sensory parenting groups on Facebook, parents are vocal about how much their pets have helped their children, showing the ways pets improve mental health….
“We have 5 pets … they all help her in their own way. It’s amazing how they all have their purpose.” – Jamie Lynn B.
“His cat is helpful to him. I think she helped him learn to be more empathetic to others.” – Diana G.
“Our dog helps my son so much. Best $25 we ever spent (we adopted our dog). 2.5 years [and going] as bff’s.” – Krista C.
Benefits of Pet Ownership on Mental Health
Pet ownership can have such a positive effect on our kids, including those who may be struggling with mental health…. from anxiety to depression to special needs.
From minimizing loneliness and stress to aiding in social situations, pets can truly go above and beyond for their human companions.
“Millions of people are affected by mental health disorders across the U.S., so when a doctor recommends a life with a pet, he or she is truly writing a prescription for a happier, healthier life,” said Jam Stewart, vice president of corporate affairs at Mars Petcare. “
Consider these mental health benefits that pet ownership can bring, according to the WALTHAM™ Centre for Pet Nutrition.
And visit BetterCitiesForPets.com to learn more about the benefits of four-legged friends and how pet owners can help them in return.
Loneliness can take many forms.
Whether it’s caused by the heightened impact of social media or the alienation many kids can feel during the school years, surveys suggest that getting a pet can help.
More than half of pet owners said getting a pet gave them a new sense of purpose.
Preparing to tackle the day ahead can be easier with your furry friend at your child’s side.
Make Larger Social Circles
Pets can help create social bonds between people.
Pet owners tend to make more friends in their communities than non-pet owners, because pets increase friendliness, helpfulness and trust.
Whether it’s on a walk around the block or in an active dog park, furry friends are often up for meeting someone new, which provides a way to break down social barriers and increase your circle of pet-loving friends.
I know my kids end up getting to know others in the neighborhood while they’re out walking out Boston Terrier Lucy and mixed hunting dog Maggie May.
In addition, when they kids are out and about in the neighborhood, they end up stopping to talk to other kids as they’re out walking their own dogs. It’s an instant bond between them.
Pets Help with Stress Management
It’s been shown that people of all ages with pets may be better able to deal with stress.
Not only do pets provide greater self-esteem, enhanced social skills and an increased sense of empathy, pets can be beneficial in a wide range of therapeutic and institutional settings in animal-assisted therapy.
Just the other day, my middle school son Vman was having a really hard day and stormed upstairs.
Rather than going to talk to him right away, I popped Lucy into his room, closed the door and walked away.
Within 20 minutes, Vman was back downstairs feeling more centered and more like himself.
He walked right up to me, gave me a hug and said thanks for bringing Lucy upstairs — it was just what he needed.
People who walk their dogs get more physical activity on average than their non-dog walker counterparts.
I have to tell you, on the days when my kids feel like being couch potatoes, I send them off to walk our dogs or go play in the backyard.
There may be some eye rolling, but it gets them out of the house and moving.
And often they come back smiling at the cute things the doggies did.
It’s a terrific excuse for the kids to get some exercise in the day and can also reset your child.
Learn Valuable Lessons
Taking care of dogs and cats prepares people for increased responsibilities as they get older.
From childhood through adulthood, pets can provide life lessons like the importance of respecting boundaries and enjoying life’s big and small moments.
As my boys have gotten older, it’s been a source of pride that they are responsible for feeding our dogs first thing in the morning and getting them outside.
Taking care of our dogs is teaching them responsibility but also seeing the rewards of being responsible for someone else.
It also makes them think beyond themselves… paying attention to our furry family members and their specific needs.
Tell me: Do you have a pet in your home? How has your child benefited?
Read more about special needs parenting on Mommy Evolution!
Welcome to Voices of Special Needs Blog Hop — a monthly gathering of posts from special needs bloggers hosted by The Sensory Spectrum and Mommy Evolution. Click on the links below to read stories from other bloggers about having a special needs kiddo — from Sensory Processing Disorder to ADHD, from Autism to Dyslexia!
Want to join in on next month’s Voices of Special Needs Hop? Click here!