HOUSTON (CW39) It’s Mental Health Awareness Month and according to Mental Health America, nearly 1 in 5 American adults will likely have a mental health condition in any given year. It’s no surprise given that stress in America has reached historic levels with new peaks during the pandemic. Furry kids are said to help reduce stress and anxiety. 

With May being Mental Health Awareness Month, Best Friends Animal Society, animal welfare organization dedicated to ending the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters, is sharing the many mental health benefits of adopting a companion animal, which include: 

  • On Call Companion. Living with a pet means you have somebody by your side when you need it most. According to the Human Animal Bond Research Institute, pet parents say that they feel less alone and isolated.  
  • Non-Medical Mood Booster. Pet parents know thatjust looking at adorable furry faces can make you happier. Studies show that eye contact with your dog can release oxytocin—the love hormone. Oxytocin has been proven to treat both anxiety and depression.  
  • Routine! Routine! Routine! Having a pet means having a set schedule every day. Routines are especially important for people suffering from anxiety and depression because they provide a sense of stability and responsibility for someone other than yourself.  
  • Exercise. Dogs can make the best personal trainers. You won’t be able to say no to that face as they plead with you for a walk. This will help both of you get those steps in which promotes heart health. 
  • Calming Cats (and Dogs). Petting your pet is a quick way to de-stress, and there is a scientific explanation why. Being around pets can lower the stress hormone cortisol, which in turn, helps reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.  

Best Friends Animal Society strongly encourages adopting or fostering from a shelter or rescue group now more than ever. Right now, there are 100,000 more pets at-risk of being killed in shelters than last year due to recent problems such as staffing shortages that limit shelter hours, decreased in-person volunteers, and reduced adoption events and pet care support.