For many people, sharing their life with a companion animal (also known as a pet) has positive benefits, while for some it doesn’t. My own opinion on these issues is that regardless of what science says, if you live with a non-human companion, it will work for you.
I just learned of a very interesting and important study by Helen Brooks of Liverpool University and her colleagues, “The Power of Pet Support for People with Mental Health Problems: A Systematic Review and Narrative Synthesis of the Evidence” on these Researchers analyzed the scope, type, and quality of evidence from 17 English-language international research papers. This detailed study is available online and is pretty easy to read. There are also direct quotes from participants that summarize different sections of this research paper well and focus on the pros and cons of choosing to live with another animal for emotional support. I am making some direct quotations because it is important to understand exactly what the researchers did.
For a brief summary, see an essay titled “Effects Pets Have on Owners”. Below are some excerpts from the original research paper that are designed to whet your appetite for more.
Regarding the methods they used, the researchers write, “Quantitative evidence of the benefits of pet ownership was mixed with included studies showing positive, negative, and neutral effects of pet ownership. Qualitative studies highlighted the intensity of human connectivity With Pets The multiple ways in which pets have contributed to work related to managing mental health, especially during times of crisis. The negative aspects of owning pets were also highlighted, including the practical and emotional burdens of owning pets and the has associated psychological implications for losing a pet. “