April 14, 2020
If you’re like me, your Facebook feed is filled with pictures of people with their new furry friends. Most of the United States has been practicing social distancing over the last few weeks, and many people have seen it as the perfect time to bring home a new pet. I can’t say I blame them—my dog has been a constant source of entertainment, companionship and snuggles over the last few weeks. According to a study from the Arizona Canine Cognition Center, here are a few ways that pets can play a role in keeping your spirits up and keeping you healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Studies show that pets can have a stress buffering effect on people going through challenging times. Not only in terms of how a person feels emotionally, but also physically! Having a pet can positively affect measures like heart rate, blood pressure and cortisol levels.
- Having a pet can help you feel connected, even when we’re forced to be socially distant. This is important because research has shown that people who don’t feel connected to others are more likely to catch a cold, develop heart disease, have lower cognitive function, and live shorter lives.
- While it’s important that we follow guidelines from the CDC about outdoor exercise, playing with your pet or taking a walk with your dog, can bring welcome relief at a time like this. In general, exercise is an excellent form of stress relief. You should stick with a scenic walk and make sure you’re not visiting places like crowded dog parks.
- Pets can help entertain kids, too. Which in turn, can be helpful to many parents that are navigating the new waters of working from home and homeschooling.
So give your pet a hug! Take them on an extra walk today! They deserve it. If you don’t have a pet, but would like to use your extra time at home for good, many animal shelters are in need of foster homes during this time. Reach out to your local shelter to find out how you can help. It’s likely that you’ll end up benefitting just as much as your new friend will!