Johannesburg SPCA

Anxious? Depressed? You need the Pet Effect

Horses are amazing

Studies show that as many as one in six South Africans suffer from anxiety, depression or other mental condition.

Living in the midst of a protracted pandemic, increased social isolation, and economic challenges make matters worse.

But there is something you can do to alleviate frazzled nerves… it’s called the Pet Effect. 

Most pet owners know how a companion animal, such as a cat or a dog, can enrich their lives, but not that much is known about the emotional and mental health benefits that sharing your life with a furry friend can hold.  

Studies now reveal that pets, especially dogs and cats, can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, ease loneliness, encourage exercise and playfulness, and even improve cardiovascular health.

Caring for an animal can help children grow up more secure and active. Pets also provide valuable companionship for older adults. Perhaps most importantly, though, a pet can add real joy and unconditional love to your life (and you can do the same for them!).

1. Lower levels of depression

Pet owners are less likely to suffer from depression than those without pets.

2. Lower blood pressure

People with pets have lower blood pressure in stressful situations than those without pets. One study even found that when people with borderline hypertension adopted dogs from a shelter, their blood pressure declined significantly within five months.

3. Calmer and more relaxed

Playing with a dog, cat, or other pet can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, which calm and relax.

4. Lower Cholesterol

Pet owners have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels (indicators of heart disease) than those without pets.

5. Longer survival after a heart attack

Heart attack patients with pets survive longer than those without.

6. Fewer visits to the doctor

Pet owners over age 65 make 30 percent fewer visits to their doctors than those without pets.

Adapted from an article published on

1 thought on “Anxious? Depressed? You need the Pet Effect”

  1. I am 68 years old living alone in the pandemic and feel better for having two dogs which are wonderful companions. Both dogs were adopted by me from the SPCA so a big thank you for the wonderful work that you do.

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