Bringing a new best friend into your home is an exciting time. A pet becomes an integral part of your life, as a friend, a family member and, most of all, a companion that can have a great impact on your mental health and wellbeing. Research has shown that human-animal interactions can reduce anxiety and protect against negative feelings. Pets have a way of knowing when we need them most. Our social support and ability to heal in the long-term improves just with their presence. Researchers suggest that animals offer unconditional acceptance, making them a calm comfort to all.²
Over the years, LifeLine adopters have frequently shared updates with us about how their pets have changed their lives for the better. Below is how Flora and Cindy Lou, adopted dogs from our Fulton County Animal Services shelter, have helped their mom on her journey:
Flora and Cindy Lou
Did You Know? ¹
- Playing with your dog has been shown to lower blood pressure and increase dopamine and oxytocin, the feel-good brain chemicals that produce well-being sensations.
- Older pet-owning adults have improved cognitive function.
- Pet ownership can also help to reduce anxiety and PTSD symptoms.
- Maybe your pet encourages you to go outside and bask in the sun, reminds you to rest when you need it, or provides a listening ear and hug at any time. No matter where you’re at in life, pets are practically essential to improving our mental health.
A poll by The American Psychiatric Association (APA) revealed that pets had a positive impact on their pet owners’ mental health because of their calming presence, true friendship, unconditional love and support. “The benefits of pet ownership to many Americans seem to outweigh the stressors,” according to APA CEO and Medical Director, Saul Levin, MD, MPA.⁴
These pet owners recently shared their stories about how their pets have brought peace and love into their lives.
Gigi and Lia
Companions For Life
LifeLine reached out to an incredible community partner, Pets for Patriots, an organization that goes above and beyond to support veterans and companion animals, for a reflection on this important topic.
Molly Weasley on her adoption day at the LifeLine Community Animal Center. This special moment was made possible through our partnership with Pets for Patriots!
Another wonderful organization helping pet families in Atlanta is Ahimsa House. They are dedicated to helping the human and animal victims of domestic violence reach safety together. Shannon Oxford, Associate Director of Ahimsa House, was kind enough to share with us the lifechanging impact pets have on the survivors they meet: