The Role of Pets in Depression and Bullying in Kids

Guest Contributor: Hillary Smith

girl with dog

It’s hardly possible to list all perks of owning a pet in one article, so I won’t even try. Instead, I’ll focus on one of the least discussed aspects of pet ownership – its effect on children bullying and depression. This topic is as serious as it is important to talk about since more people than we know suffer from the above-mentioned problem. Both depression and bullying in children can significantly affect the quality of life, that’s why the issue should not be left without attention.

It goes without saying that pets fulfill our lives with new emotions. Nothing compares to seeing your fluffy dog running towards you as you get back from work at the end of a long working day. And there’s sure nothing like waking up from a tender purr your cat makes when sitting by your bed early in the morning. Most of the pet owners would agree that having a four-legged friend is associated with positive emotions that range from adoration to happiness to amusement.

Can Your Pet Cure Depression?

Absolutely. Although it doesn’t happen overnight, there is scientific evidence that pets can help alleviate (or even eliminate entirely) the symptoms of depression. Animal-assisted therapy is considered an effective way of treatment for those suffering from depression and anxiety.

But How Can They Do This?

There’re plenty of possible reasons why this works, and I’d be happy to mention the most probable ones. First and foremost, pet ownership is all about unconditional and uncomplicated love. While we can only dream about such level of relationships with other human beings, our fluffy friends find it easy to bring it to our lives. With pets, love feels simple, which brings a great relief for those tired of disputes and unjustified expectations. Secondly, owning a pet encourages activity and helps you build up your daily routine. They say we’re most likely to feel depressed when are bored and not busy. Well, with a ball of fluff rushing around, there’s no enough room for boredom. Thirdly, pets are great for social interaction and they can easily fulfill your daily need of physical touch.

boy with dog.jpg

Pets and Bullying in Kids

Speaking of how pet ownership affects bullying in kids, there are two different perspectives to be considered. The first one is how pets can help children fight against bullying, while the second is just the opposite – how pet ownership breeds empathy and helps children realize the true nature and adverse consequences of bullying. To put it differently, adopting a pet can help both victims of bullying and those bullying others.

So how pets can fight bullying?

As it’s been proved, pets help children better understand such complicated feelings as empathy, tolerance, and kindness – all those emotions a lack of which often results in bullying issues. Since pets are known for responding to emotional cues, they can teach children to show compassion to those in need.

At the same time, owning a pet (especially a dog) can help kids deal with a psychological burden of bullying they might experience at school or elsewhere. Having a pet helps children feel more confident, loved, and understood. As a result, having a pet is likely to make your kid able to respond to bullying better.

Being bullied can have serious negative consequences on a child’s mental health, which is why the problem should never be left untreated. Luckily, chances are good that something as simple as adopting a pet can help tremendously.

So what’s the bottom line?

Having a pet is great for both physical and mental health. However, not all pets are equal. Especially, when it comes to dogs. While some breeds are great companions and can feel like real friends, others are less inclined to hugs and kisses. So if your primary reason for owning a pet is emotional well-being, make sure to conduct a little research to be able to make an educated choice. And don’t forget the most important thing: regardless of your choice, life will never be the same. In the finest sense of these words.


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