The majority, or 89%, of pet parents in Singapore said their furry companions had a positive impact on their mental well-being during the pandemic, according to a survey from multinational animal health company Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health Singapore published in the Straits Times.
The survey was carried out among 1,018 cat and dog parents in Singapore from October 8 to 27, 2021.
Armin Wiesler, Boehringer Ingelheim’s regional managing director and head of animal health for South-east Asia and South Korea, said, “With the Covid-19 pandemic, it has become even more evident that the lives of animals and humans are interconnected in deep and complex ways, where pets have shown to play an important part in supporting humans physically, mentally and emotionally.”
Lim Boon Leng, a psychiatrist from Gleneagles Hospital, told The Straits Times that before the pandemic, small-scale studies had already suggested that animal assisted therapy can decrease anxiety and improve the quality of life for some, including the elderly and those with chronic mental illnesses.
Pets can help alleviate loneliness, especially in those who have no other company.
Leng said that pets can help improved mental health in a variety of ways including:
- Alleviating loneliness, especially in those who have no other company.
- Some pet parents may feel that having a pet brings meaning to their lives.
- Pets can take the focus off sufferings one is facing, shifting it to the responsibility of caring for another being.
- Studies have shown that tactile stimulation, like petting a dog – and interactions with pets can reduce stress hormones and enhance oxytocin, a feel-good hormone.
- Pet parents also often have to walk their dogs or perform activities with them which helps to promote exercising.
Kenneth Tong, head veterinarian and founder of Animal and Avian Veterinary Clinic added that while pets can have a positive impact on their owners’ mental and physical health, he emphasised that getting a pet should not be seen as a “quick fix”.