Animal companionship eases social isolation

Research revealed at a recent summit shows that dogs, cats and other companion animals do a lot to relieve loneliness in humans.

We’ve heard a lot about how dogs and cats can reduce stress, improve overall health and well-being, and even increase workplace productivity. Now, we can add a further benefit to the list of proven perks that come with sharing your life with companion animals – they play an important role in easing social isolation and helping people feel less lonely.

On May 7, Mars Petcare and the Human-Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) hosted a Summit on Social Isolation & Companion Animals. They announced the results of market research which revealed that 80% of those with pets say their animals make them feel less lonely, meaning dogs, cats and other critters may play an important role in helping to address loneliness. The ultimate goal of the Summit was to educate health care professionals to consider incorporating animals into treatment for people who struggle with social isolation or loneliness.

Here are some additional findings from the research:

  • 85% of both animal guardians and non-animal guardians believe that animal interaction can help reduce loneliness
  • 76% agree that human-animal interactions can help address social isolation
  • One in four respondents (26%) stated they got an animal because they know it is good for mental health
  • Nine in ten people aged 55+ believe that companion animals can help older adults feel less lonely
  • 54% say their animals help them connect with other people, and half state their animals help them feel less shy
  • Nearly 75% of respondents feel that nursing homes and assisted-living facilities should foster animal interaction.
  • Additional research also shows that animals help children with autism as well as seniors feel less lonely, while increasing social abilities and interaction.

So if you’re feeling lonely, maybe it’s time to consider adopting a dog or cat!