The coronavirus pandemic has us all frazzled. We’re isolated. We’re avoiding friends and the gym and family reunions and people in general. Vacations are delayed. Some of us have lost jobs. Others are fearful of losing one. Anxiety and depression abound.
Some scientists are pointing to some furry superheroes as the best antidote to this pandemic malaise: Our pets.
Sociologist L.F. Carver notes in an essay in the online periodical The Conversation that, even in good times, pets can make for a healthier life. She notes that pandemic puppies or cats are a veritable godsend in tough times such as these.
She says that a non-human companion has been shown by research to reduce stress and promote good health.
Many people adopted pets early in the COVID-19 pandemic because they were fearful the critters would be abandoned, which was reported to be the case in Wuhan, China. Carver says they were trying to help the pets. But, it turns out, the pets are the ones helping their new owners.
The National Institutes of Health research shows pets decrease loneliness and depression, boost your mood and increase feelings of social support. Having a pet also has been shown to decrease the stress-related hormone cortisol and reduce blood pressure. The American Heart Association suggests pets can improve heart health. We get more exercise when we have pets. Dogs, after all, need to be walked.
While the pets most Americans own are cats and dogs, the NIH said that even fish alleviate stress, noting calmness is induced when we watch them swim.
So, give your dog an extra treat tonight. Your pooch might just be keeping you out of the doldrums.