Dog Owners Less Prone to Depression During the Pandemic
Research has shown that owning a dog can lead to decreased risk of death, for example, after a heart attack or a stroke. Also, dogs can help improve the overall health of their owners. For instance, they can be trained to detect hypoglycemia in individuals who have diabetes.
A study conducted by a research team based in Nestlé Purina Research in Saint-Louis suggests that reportedly, during the COVID-19 pandemic, people who have dogs are less likely to suffer from depression. The study’s findings indicate that dogs protect their owners from the adverse psychological effects of the pandemic. The researchers believe that these pets can help their owners when they feel sad.
Namely, social support can help individuals lessen their feelings of anxiety and positively affect the immune system, general well-being, and conditions like asthma, diabetes, and osteoarthritis. Humans are physiologically and psychologically affected by the pandemic. Hence they require social support, such as:
- a feeling of being loved
- an awareness of being cherished and cared for
- a sense of being part of a support group
The study’s participants were divided into two groups: those who owned a dog and potential dog owners. They gave insight into the impact of the pandemic on their lifestyle, financial situation, well-being, and emotions. The research team used six psychometric scales to assess their responses and discovered that owning a dog may considerably decrease depression.
Dr. Martin, the lead author of the study, pointed out that dog support in the overall health of individuals might be more evident in those who feel highly stressed or socially isolated. He believes that people who have low to moderate social support are more likely to benefit from owning a dog, and that is why the focus of further research should be on these individuals.
However, despite the size of the samples, the study failed to clearly demonstrate the general population’s state. The difference between the two groups may not be only in dog ownership but also in other factors.
Photo by Eric Ward on Unsplash