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Pets Can Support Mental Health

Dogs are often at the top of emotional support animal wish lists. These furry friends can be empathetic and comforting during stressful times. However, if you have an allergy or your housing situation prohibits dogs, there are many options. Other animals could match your lifestyle and offer positive mental health benefits.

Pets to Consider

  • Fish: Do you want to invite some calm into your life? Observing these creatures move through the water can instantly quiet a busy mind. Fish have been shown to decrease stress and lessen anxiety and are easy to care for.
  • Cats: Do you prefer a pet that will make a good roommate? Cats are ideal for pet parents who enjoy their independence. Felines avoid eye contact and naturally understand personal boundaries. According to one Australian study, people with cats have better psychological health than those without pets.
  • Rabbits: Are you seeking a low-maintenance companion? Rabbits are naturally sociable, bond quickly with owners, and adjust easily to new environments. You can get your daily dose of endorphins (feel-good hormones) by petting a rabbit.
  • Birds: Do you need some music in your life? Many varieties of birds sing. A King’s College London study found that hearing or seeing birds can boost your mental well-being for up to eight hours. Birds may be a good match if you prefer a pet that lights up the room but stays in a cage.
  • Lizards: Do you want a low-maintenance pet? Lizards are independent and don’t need too much attention. You may not like snakes, but geckos and other smaller lizards are popular options.

The mental health benefits of pets are numerous and include decreasing loneliness, increasing physical activity, and boosting self-esteem. Having a pet in your life also provides a sense of purpose. If you aren’t ready to be a pet parent, consider volunteer opportunities at a nearby pet shelter.

SOURCE: United Benefit Advisors (UBA)