Pets and their impact on mental well-being

Many studies have been conducted on assessing the benefits of owning pets, specifically cats and dogs. (Photo: Envato elements)
As humans, we have tamed nature and the world around us. We first cultivated land and began growing resources to sustain us; not long after, humans began domesticating animals to serve various purposes. From then till now, humans have held a special relationship with animals and have evolved alongside them. As a result, household pets, especially cats and dogs, have been linked with numerous wellness benefits.اضافة اعلان

Pets and general wellness

It is believed that dogs were the first animals to be domesticated by humans at around 14–30,000 BC and served alongside us in hunting; thus, both formed a symbiotic relationship. Cats were thought to be domesticated around 8,500 BC, and depictions of domesticated cats for worship can be seen in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics.

There have been many studies conducted on assessing the benefits of owning pets, specifically cats and dogs.

One study found that owning pets showed a statistically significant increase in people being satisfied in life than those who did not own any pets. Owning a pet also indicated, on average, high rates of wellness benefits and lower rates of negative wellness traits.

The study also analyzed the differences between cat and dog owners and found that dog owners showed a statistically significant decrease in likeliness to have negative emotions or be susceptible to them. In addition, dog owners had statistically significant higher rates of pet anthropomorphism, which is the humanizing of animals.

This means that dog owners were more likely to see their pet as a true member of the family and care for them as such. In addition, a separate study assessed the wellness benefits of pet anthropomorphism and found that those who do humanize their pets had greater rates of self-esteem and psychological fulfillment and lower rates of depression symptoms and stress-related illnesses.

It is important to note that simply having a pet does not necessarily bring about positive aspects of wellness, but the bond between the pet and the owner is what influences positive wellness.

Pets and COVID-19

Pets are not only great for improving overall wellness; there are also multiple studies showing positive effects of owning pets in specific situations, such as the global pandemic caused by COVID-19.

Many studies have shown the negative impact of the disease on mental health and general wellness, reporting that the pandemic caused higher rates of depression, anxiety, and stress. However, a study conducted in Malaysia during the pandemic found that pet owners had statistically significant higher rates of psychological well-being, coping self-efficacy, and positive emotions.

Pets and treatment-resistant major depressive disorder (TR-MDD)
TR-MDD is a severe depressive disorder in which conventional forms of treatment and medication seldom work. As a result, there has been a growing interest in exploring non-pharmacological (non-medicinal) approaches.

One study tested animal therapy on TR-MDD, and the results were impressive. Remission in TR-MDD is extremely low and yet, in the group tested with animal therapy, 36.3 percent were remitted, whereas the control group had zero remissions.

Additionally, the positive effects only took 12 weeks to show significant improvement.

Pets and cancer survivors

Cancer is a harsh and challenging disease with often high mortality rates, and cancer treatment can leave many drained. For those who survive, their physical and mental wellness are often severely impacted.

A study in Australia compared the quality of life of pet-owning cancer survivors and non-pet-owning survivors, and the study showed mixed results in several aspects. However, pet owners had statistically significant higher rates of positive outlooks on the meaning of life, sense of self-worth, and purpose.

Pets in Jordan:

Unfortunately, Jordan has an issue with the treatment of stray animals that impacts pets. In the streets, stray cats will feed in dumpsters or be seen strolling around. Their presence is often seen as a nuisance which causes them to be targets for abuse.
When it comes to stray dogs, the treatment is far worse. It is common practice for stray dogs to be poisoned or shot due to the stigma surrounding them. Beyond the fear of their dog getting hurt if lost or loose, dog owners in Jordan must also fear abduction.

These “dognappers” view animals as a commodity and will kidnap them to breed and sell for the purpose of turning a profit. Fortunately, institutes such as the Princess Alia Foundation and the Humane Center for Animal Welfare have taken steps to try and prevent this type and other types of animal abuse in Jordan.

If you are considering adopting a pet in Jordan, you can visit the Humane Center located on Airport Road, opposite of Amman Waves, as their organization focuses on providing care and finding homes for rescued animals.

Additionally, Amman has seen a growth in pet stores and veterinary clinics that will provide you with everything you need to care for your pet.

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