Pets help students cope during self-isolation

by | Mar 24, 2020 | News

Melanie Valente-Leite, News Reporter

People who have pets might be able to better able to deal with feelings of loneliness during the periods of self-isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Studies show pets can help people feel better during isolation. By cuddling or playing with an animal, whether it’s a dog or a goat, studies confirm connections with animals improve one’s mental health. 

“Throughout the craziness of this pandemic, my dog has been there supporting me,” said Cassandra Frias, a third-year student of Social Science and Criminal Justice at Humber College. 

“By taking him on walks, it’s helping both of us by getting fresh air that is well needed in a time like this,” she said.

As self-isolation and social distancing to non-essential businesses closing is enforced to prevent the spread of the virus, the feeling of loneliness has begun to play a role in everyone’s lives.

Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has been affecting billions in different ways across the globe. 

“I’m used to my pets cuddling and sleeping with me, but now more than ever, it feels very comforting,” said Jordan Utting, a third-year Bachelor of Fine Arts student at Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver.

Percy the therapy dog makes a weekly appearance at Humber North campus. (Danielle Furtado)

Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) research revealed 76 per cent of respondents say human-pet interactions can help address social isolation improvement, and 85 per cent of respondents say interaction with pets helps reduce loneliness.

Research also shows 97 per cent of patients showed improvement with their mental health after interacting with an animal.

“Having your pet around while you’re at home can help relieve some of your mental health issues,” said Giovanna Barker, a second-year student in the Real Estate Salesperson Program at Humber. “My dog always supports me and always brightens my mood.” 

Interacting with animals helps offset depression and anxiety by enabling the production of serotonin and dopamine, as well as helping us feel needed because they depend on our love and assistance to live a healthy life, according to the Canada Protection Plan, an insurance company.

HABRI research showed growing evidence pets offer physiological and psychological benefits, and improves quality of life and well-being.