The strong connection between pets and mental health

May 31, 2022

If the past several years have taught leaders anything about their workforce, mental health support is no longer a “nice to have.” In fact, well-being has become a core pillar of the employee experience in a tight talent market. So much so that 89% of those who either just left their job or are planning to leave said it was because they felt burned out and unsupported.

While organizational leaders continue to look for innovative and compelling ways to bring more well-being benefits to their people, there’s one easy investment hiding in plain sight: supporting the 70% of your workforce who are pet parents.

Over the last few years, pet ownership has reached historic highs across US households. It’s no surprise that this surge in pet ownership began as our collective well-being started to dip. Research repeatedly shows a positive association between pet ownership and well-being, how it improves social support, and also helps individuals better manage long-term mental health conditions. Here’s how:

Pets reduce work-related stress and boost our mood

Several studies have proven that pet ownership can play a vital role in our mental health, especially when it comes to helping to regulate mounting stress at work. For example, pets in the workplace help reduce stress and improve employee satisfaction. We also now know that just being around pets can lower the stress hormone cortisol, which helps reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.

Pet owners experience better physical health outcomes

The link between our physical and mental health has been long established, but pet owners seem to benefit more than others. For over 30 years, research has shown positive physiological effects, especially lowered blood pressure, to petting dogs and social interaction with companion animals. In addition, people with pets have lower blood pressure in stressful situations and have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels.

Other benefits of pets that boost mental health

As the world shifts and uncertainty becomes a more significant part of our daily life, pets can help ground and comfort us. When things can feel unpredictable at home or work, a pet’s consistent routine, like feeding and exercise, can help create balance and structure for parents.

Having a pet also provides a much-needed sense of purpose for many pet owners, which helps lower depression and anxiety symptoms. Pet parents also frequently cite that the companionship and bonding they experience with their pets helps them feel less alone and enables them to meet new people.

Address the stressors your pet parents face

Although there are clear benefits to pet ownership, many employees struggle with the stress and uncertainty of today’s world. Here are just a few issues that may be detracting from their well-being:

Return to office stress

New pet parents have grown accustomed to spending much of their time with their pets and caring for their needs while they work from home throughout the pandemic. However, as more and more employees return to the office full or part-time, leaving their pets alone can cause workers undue stress, anxiety, and depression.

Pet care access issues

Unfortunately, while there has been a boom in pet ownership, vet shortages have also skyrocketed. One recent study estimates that 75 million pets may lack access to veterinary care by 2030. These gaps in care access often leave your pet parent employees scrambling to search for health answers online or endure long wait times for in-person care. Typically, visiting a vet is only available during business hours requiring employees to take time off work (and for hourly employees, this is a choice between going unpaid or providing care for their pet).

Increased uncertainty

Without the above access, pet parents never really know what’s going on with their pet’s health, and their mind is often elsewhere, which can negatively impact their mental health and well-being. Or alternatively lead to a lot of time looking for answers from Dr. Google which can lead to more stress and concern.

Give peace of mind to your pet parent employees

Preventative, comprehensive pet care for your employees is just a few clicks away. Airvet’s 24/7 telemedicine service removes the inconvenience of time-consuming visits to the vet in person and long wait times to get appointments, making it easier for pet parents to get the care they need when they need it. The timely answers, preventative care advice, and resources Airvet provide offer pet parents peace of mind and support around-the-clock.

Learn more about Airvet for Employers and get in touch with our team.