National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day, April 30
In 1962, "Happiness Is a Warm Puppy" helped launch the career of Charles M. Schulz - the creative genius behind the long-running Peanuts comic strip. Schulz is, of course, not the first - or only - person to find joy in a pet. Millions of people around the world have dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, snakes, and other animals as beloved companions.
How Pets Can Help Your Mental Health
Beyond the anecdotal evidence of how many people react to petting a cat or even seeing a cute puppy, there is a wealth of research that confirms that pets can have a significant positive impact on our mental (and physical) health.
Many studies have found that pet owners report lower levels of depression, and that the presence of a pet helps to alleviate feelings of loneliness and social isolation.
- According to a study published in BMC Psychiatry, pets can help to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression in people with serious mental illness.
- A study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology found that pet owners had higher levels of positive emotions and lower levels of negative emotions compared to non-pet owners. The study also found that pet owners experienced greater meaning in life and were more satisfied with their lives. The study suggests that pets can help provide a sense of purpose and meaning that can benefit mental well-being.
- Three studies published collectively in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology “... observed that everyday people enjoy well-being benefits from pet ownership and that these advantages are stronger when pets fulfill one’s social needs.”
- A study from the American Heart Association even found that dog ownership was associated with a 24% reduction in mortality risk, particularly due to cardiovascular disease. This may be because owning a pet can encourage physical activity and a more active lifestyle.
Benefits of Having a Pet
There are many ways in which having a pet can help with mental health.
Reduce stress. Studies have shown that even just spending time with a pet can reduce cortisol, the hormone associated with stress, in humans. This is because when we interact with animals, our body releases oxytocin—a hormone associated with relaxation, bonding, and trust.
Improve moods and mental health conditions. People who own pets often report being less anxious or depressed than those who don't have pets. This could be because of the companionship, unconditional love, and stress-relieving effects our furry friends provide us with.
Feel more connected to others. Having a pet can help people with social anxiety or loneliness feel more connected to others. It's easier to interact and bond with a pet than it is with other humans—especially if you're an introvert or you struggle to make friends.
Physical activity. Pets are a major source of motivation for getting active. Walking, running, or playing with your pet can help you stay in shape and fit. This is beneficial both physically and mentally, as physical activity helps to reduce stress, increase endorphins (the “happy hormone”), and generally improve overall well-being. Plus, just like any friend, pet owners will find themselves looking forward to seeing their beloved animal again after being away for some time!
National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day
“National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day, a day created to raise awareness for the millions of animals waiting for their forever homes in shelters across the country.”
― American Humane
National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day is celebrated on April 30th each year. The day encourages people to adopt pets from shelters rather than buying them from pet stores, breeders, or other sources. By adopting from a shelter, people can potentially give an animal a second chance at a happy life.
The day also raises awareness for people to volunteer at their nearest animal shelters or donate money, pet food, or supplies, as shelters require year-round assistance. Adoption of animals is just one part of the process as animals are dropped at shelters every day. These shelters need help in ensuring the animals’ good health and well-being. This day is a reminder for everyone to make sure that they offer their support throughout the year.
Benefits of Adopting a Shelter Pet
Adopting a shelter pet can bring many benefits to both the pet and the owner.
7 ways to create a culture of accountability:
You are saving a life. adopting a shelter pet means you are giving them a second chance at life. You are also helping to reduce the number of animals that are euthanized each year.
you may be getting a pet that is already trained. many shelter pets are already trained, which can make the transition to a new home much easier.
you are getting a loyal companion. shelter pets often have a special bond with their new owners because they are so grateful to have a loving home.
you are promoting responsible pet ownership. by adopting a shelter pet, you are setting an example for others and promoting responsible pet ownership.
you are supporting your local shelter. when you adopt a shelter pet, you are supporting your local shelter and helping them to continue their important work.
Tips for Adopting a Shelter Pet
Adopting a shelter pet can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but it is important to approach the process thoughtfully and carefully.
5 tips to keep in mind:
take your time. don't rush into adopting a pet. Take your time to find the right animal for your family and lifestyle.
consider your lifestyle. before adopting a pet, consider your lifestyle and the amount of time and attention you can realistically give to a new pet. For example, if you work long hours or travel frequently, a high-energy dog may not be the best fit for you.
be prepared for the costs. while adopting a shelter pet is generally less expensive than buying a pet from a breeder, it is important to be prepared for the costs associated with pet ownership, including food, medical care, and other expenses.
be patient. many shelter pets have had difficult lives before coming to the shelter, so it may take some time for them to adjust to their new home. Be patient and give your new pet time to settle in.
get professonal help if needed. if you are having difficulty with your new pet's behavior, consider working with a professional trainer or behaviorist to help address any issues.
CLICK BELOW AND WATCH THE ULLIANCE PET VIDEO—ENJOY!
National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day is an important reminder of the millions of animals that are waiting for their forever homes in shelters across the country. Adopting a shelter pet can obviously be a positive experience for the pet but can also provide important mental and physical well-being benefits to the owner.
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Dog Ownership and Survival: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis;
Caroline K. Kramer, Sadia Mehmood and Renée S. Suen
Friends With Benefits: On the Positive Consequences of Pet Ownership; Allen R. McConnell, Christina M. Brown, Tonya M. Shoda, Laura E. Stayton, and Colleen E. Martin
How Pets Can Help Us Maintain Mental Health; National Alliance of Mental Illness | California, https://namica.org/blog/how-dogs-can-help-us-maintain-mental-health/
How Pets Help Manage Depression; Kara Mayer Robinson, https://www.webmd.com/depression/features/pets-depression
Pets & Wellbeing: 15 Benefits of Emotional Support Animals; Jeremy Sutton, Journal of Positive Psychology, https://positivepsychology.com/pets-mental-health/
The power of support from companion animals for people living with mental health problems: a systematic review and narrative synthesis of the evidence; Helen Louise Brooks, Kelly Rushton, Karina Lovell, Penny Bee, Lauren Walker, Laura Grant & Anne Rogers https://bmcpsychiatry.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12888-018-1613-2