From boosting morale to reducing levels of stress, sharing a home with an animal friend can go a long way in improving your overall mental health — especially during times of lockdown.
At least, that’s what a recent survey from the University of York has found, after researching the relationship between pet ownership and psychological wellbeing during COVID-19 lockdowns. The results showed that owning a pet was associated with an improved state of mental health and decreased levels of loneliness, no matter the animal’s species.
For the study, the researchers surveyed almost 6,000 people in the UK and found that owning a pet appeared to act as a buffer against psychological stress during the pandemic lockdown.
“We also discovered in this study that, the strength of the emotional bond with pets did not statistically differ by animal species, meaning that people in our sample felt on average as emotionally close to, for example, their guinea pig as they felt to their dog,” said Elena Ratschen, the study’s lead author.
Initially, animals such as horses, dogs, and cats scored slightly higher on the survey’s Comfort from Companion Animals Scale (CCA), after adjusting for other factors, the strength of the human-animal bond did not differ significantly. This means that whether it’s the loyal companionship of a reptile, a guinea pig, a dog, or a cat, sharing a home with a pet can do wonders for you in difficult times.