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Animal Companionship

Updated: May 15, 2019

Animal Companionship - Mental Health Awareness

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

“The Pet Effect” Here is a good read from Mental Health America:

The company of animals – whether as pets or service animals – can have a profound impact on a person’s quality of life and ability to recover from illnesses.

Animals help people with mental and physical health conditions

  • In people with cancer, animal-assisted interventions (i.e. therapy, education, activities) play a role in reducing anxiety, depression and aggression during treatment.1,2

  • For people receiving treatment for mental illness, animal -assisted interventions reduce anger, anxiety, depression, and general distress, while improving the ability to socialize.3

  • Animal interactions can help people who are critically ill by reducing stress, anxiety, and boredom; improving mood; and reducing heart rate and blood pressure.4

  • For people being treated for HIV, those who own dogs show fewer symptoms of depression and are better at taking medications likely because of the routines that come with dog ownership.5


1 Orlandi, M., Trangeled, K., Mambrini, A., Tagliani, M., Ferrarini, A., Zanetti, L., Tartarini, R., Pacetti, P., & Cantore, M. (2007). Pet therapy effects on oncological day hospital patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment. Anticancer Research, 27(6C), 4301-4303.

2 Gagnon, Johanne, et al. “Implementing a hospital-based animal therapy program for children with cancer: a descriptive study.” Canadian Oncology Nursing Journal/Revue canadienne de soins infirmiers en oncologie 14.4 (2004): 217-222.

3 Annick Maujean, Christopher A. Pepping & Elizabeth Kendall (2015) A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials of Animal-As­sisted Therapy on Psychosocial Outcomes, Anthrozoös, 28:1, 23-36

4 Ibid.

5 Muldoon, A., Kuhns, L., Supply, J., Jacobson, K.C., & Garofalo, R. (2017). A web-based study of dog ownership and depression among people living with HIV. Journal of Medical Internet Research Mental Health 4(4).

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