How pets improve mental health issues, from depression to PTSD

Cuddle power should not be underestimated: a growing raft of studies shows that furry friends can help people experiencing a host of issues

The comforting padding of feet across the otherwise silent house, the welcoming nudge of wet nose on arm and the soothing sense of unconditional love can make lives tainted by mental health more bearable.

Formerly love-deprived Nell, my rescue spaniel, loves her cuddles, and she “asks” for them on a daily basis. The strength of her unconditional and innocent sense of love is palpable and we both derive comfort and a sense of calm from that closeness.

Just by stroking, sitting next to or playing with a pet can help to relax and calm someone with a mental health condition. Dogs especially will encourage their owner to seek exercise and thereby meet other dog-walkers, creating vital social connections. A growing raft of studies has shown that pets can help with numerous issues linked to mental health from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder to addictions, stress and feelings of loneliness.   more

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