In the past we have discussed how pets can help with mental illness and can even help someone through an addiction. It seems like a bizarre suggestion at first, but when you consider how calming the presence of an animal can be and how soothing stroking it can be, it begins to make sense.
To learn more about these benefits, read our previous article on the subject here. To discover which animals could help with which situations, keep reading.
Dogs Can Help with Addiction Recovery
There are many ways in which the presence of a dog can boost someone’s mood. Dogs are loyalty, friendly, and uplifting, but they also need to be walked. If you’re recovering from drug addiction you may find yourself stuck in the house for all hours of the day, avoiding exercise and avoiding social situations.
Recovering addicts can feel like they have no reason to be outside—they want to avoid situations in which they may be exposed to their substance of choice or the friends they took it with. A dog, however, can give them an excuse to exercise on a daily basis. It gives them a reason to get out and about, and someone—or something—to do it with.
Combine this with all the other benefits of having a dog, including the added responsibility, and it’s easy to see how a dog can help with addiction. There are even calls to include them in certain recovery centers and even in a halfway house for women.
Dogs Can Help with Residential Care
Dogs are becoming increasingly common in residential homes, as carers understand just how beneficial they can be to the residents. They provide some much needed loyalty and help to inject some life and energy into what is otherwise a very lethargic setting.
And contrary to what you might expect, these dogs are not running wild in residential homes and making life difficult for the typically relaxed resident. In fact, dogs tend to mimic their owners and it’s usually found that while the dogs are full of life and energy at first, they tend to slow down and mimic the leisurely pace at which the residents live, while still giving them a burst of life and energy every now and then.
Cats Can Help with Anxiety
Until you have lived with cats, you can’t truly appreciate how relaxing and soothing they can be. Cats live a very slow, leisurely life. They are energetic for thirty minutes to an hour a day, and spend the rest of the time relaxing, sleeping and cleaning themselves.
Cats also like to curl up next to their owner or on their owners’ laps. As a result, they are the perfect pets to keep if you suffer from anxiety and need to calm yourself down throughout the day. Dogs can also help, but they are much more energetic and require much more care, whereas cats tend to look after themselves and only need a little feeding every now and then.
Ferrets Can Help with Depression
Although it might seem like an odd inclusion on this list, ferrets are actually one of the best pets for people suffering from mental health disorders, ranging from chronic depression and anxiety, to milder forms of depression. Ferrets are even recommended as pets by healthcare providers.
They have the loyalty of dogs and get just as excited as dogs when they see their owners coming back from work or school. However, unlike dogs, they don’t require a great deal of care, do not need to be walked or let outside several times a day, and can be held in your hands. They are basically just miniature dogs, at least as far as their benefits are concerned.
Parrots Can Help with Loneliness
Parrots like the African Grey are incredibly intelligent and can also live as long as humans. In fact, because many owners get their parrots when they are adults, effective getting a head-start, these birds often outlive their owners.
The tragic thing about this is that the parrot often ends up with a relative or it gets put into care, in which case it spends the rest of its life pining for its former owner. It’s heartbreaking, but the bond that they can create with their owner and the benefits they can offer them make parrots one of the best pets for beating loneliness.
All Pets = General Health
If you’re allergic to cats, you don’t like dogs and you can’t bear the idea of living with a bird or a ferret, don’t worry, you can still benefit. If you have any sort of affinity with animals and are not completely cold to them and their needs, then even just owning a goldfish can benefit your health.
The animal doesn’t need to be fluffy for you to benefit form stroking it either, as research suggests that super-cute and fluffy animals like rabbits can help to reduce stress levels in the same way as equally cute but less-fluffy turtles.
Generally speaking, any pet will do, and it’s always best to get one that you like. Although the research doesn’t yet back it up, there are also suggestions that rescuing an animal will provide more benefits, as it boosts our belief that we’re doing the right care and providing care for something that would otherwise be without.
As far as the anti-stress stroking, walking and playing benefits are concerned there won’t be any notable improvements, but as discussed in our previous guide to pets and mental health, they can also increase our self-esteem and self-worth and this will definitely be more pronounced in rescued pets.