Study Shows That Dogs Offer Their Owners Social Support During the Pandemic

A new study has found that dogs are improving the mental health of their owners. Moreover, the dogs have fuelled friendships, thus increasing social support for pet owners.

According to Dr. Francois Martin, a study co-author from the Nestle Purina research, the researchers compared dog owners to potential dog owners. They found that dog owners had more social support and less depression than their counterparts. 

Dr. Martins also noted that the happiness and anxiety levels in both groups were the same. However, the dog owners were more optimistic about their commitment and attitude to pets. The researchers concluded that owning a dog gave people more social support, thus combating the adverse mental outcomes of the pandemic.

How researchers conducted the study

The researchers gathered 1500 Americans for the study. Half of the volunteers had dogs, while the other did not. Moreover, the group with no dogs expressed an interest in getting one; researchers referred to them as potential dog owners.

Dr. Martin adds that walking dogs in isolation might have helped the dog owners deal with stress. Previous studies have shown that owning pets could lower anxiety and loneliness. It could also improve moods and social support. Furthermore, the dogs helped the owners stay physically active (96%) and reduce stress (91%) during the pandemic.

Despite the positive findings, the researchers pointed out that the pandemic had limited pet supplies and veterinary services for pet owners. For this reason, having a dog could negatively affect some owners during the pandemic.

The researchers conducted the study to find out of dogs could offer their owners social support during the pandemic. They had come up with a hypothesis that was owning a dog could decide the negative impact of the lockdown.

Researchers did not investigate people with other pets

While other animals likely offered social support, the researchers were not sure it would be the same as with a dog. In addition, past studies have shown that the relationship between a human and an animal can change depending on the pet.

The study adds to others that give the benefits of dog ownership. However, the researchers hope to conduct further investigations with people who have different attachments to their dogs.

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