The unprecedented events of the last two years have certainly taken their toll on people's mental health. An ongoing health pandemic, disrupted lives and sporadic lockdowns have led to heightened levels of stress and anxiety.
Now, new research reveals how owning a dog can has been beneficial to many people's mental health during the COVID-19 outbreak.
According to the study by a team of researchers from Nestlé Purina Research in Saint-Louis in Missouri, United States, dog owners reported less depression and felt they had more social support compared with a control group during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking with Medical News Today, Dr. Francois Martin, lead author and section leader of the Behavior and Welfare Group at Nestlé Purina Research, said:
“The context of the COVID-19 pandemic offered a unique opportunity to better understand how dogs may provide social support for their owners, buffer heightened symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression, and contribute to happiness.”
The researchers say their study shows that owning a dog helped protect pet owners from some of the negative psychological impacts of the pandemic. They also say that it adds to the scientific evidence that dogs provide positive support to their owners during hard times.
“We also found that dog owners had significantly lower depression scores than potential dog owners, but the two groups had similar anxiety and happiness scores,” Dr. Martin added.
The results from this observational study appear in the journal PLOS ONE.
*Image by Sven Lachmann from Pixabay