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Pets and Mental Health

Nancy MacGregor MA, ATR-BC, LPC, ACS, Clinical Director

The powerful bond between pets and humans is undeniable. Our furry friends can provide a great source of comfort and companionship. Many pet owners consider pets as a member of their family, and no matter our background or age, we all can find joy and unconditional love in sharing our lives with pets.


Many studies have explored the benefits of human-animal bonds and their therapeutic effects. According to a University of Pennsylvania conducted a study by Psychiatrist Aaron Katcher, when a person pets an animal, they experience lower blood pressure, reduced heart rate, relaxed muscle tension, and regulated breathing. In recent years, animal-assisted therapy programs have become a popular form of mental health treatment. However, we can experience the mental health benefits of animals right in our own homes.


Here are some additional ways pets benefit our mental health:

  • Lower stress hormones – Interaction with friendly dogs and cats has been linked to reduced levels of cortisol and increased levels of a natural chemical in the body that reduces stress called oxytocin.
  • Reduced anxiety and depression – Pets have been shown to provide calming effects to their owners by elevating levels of serotonin and dopamine. Caring for pets gives owners a sense of achievement and purpose, making humans feel more valuable. Anxious people may find pets as a form of anxiety therapy because they offer comfort, build self-confidence, and help one become more mindful and appreciate the present moment.
  • Reduced feelings of loneliness – If you live alone, pets can provide you with a sense of security and companionship.
  • Increased physical activity – Most dogs need to be walked or engage in some form of physical activity daily. Taking a dog for a walk, run, or hike can be a fun way to add daily exercise into you and your pet’s schedule. Exercise is also known as a form of stress relief, and as little as 30 minutes of exercise a day can boost your mood and improve mental health.
  • Provided Routine and Structure to your life – Having a furry companion requires that you get up every day to feed and care for them. Many pets have a feeding and exercise schedule they follow that keeps them from getting anxious. Having a feeding and exercise routine for your pets can also help you keep a schedule because you may have to plan parts of your day around this.


Although pets boost mental health, always remember that pets are a major commitment, and it is important to research before adopting a pet to understand what owning them entails. Each type of pet requires different needs by species and breed.


If you are interested in learning more about how a furry friend could benefit your mental health, reach out to Harmony Bay Wellness in Clementon, NJ. Having a companion pet coupled with a mental wellness treatment plan can result in huge improvements in your mental health. Our licensed therapists and psychiatrists can provide you with more information and an individualized treatment plan to assist in your road to recovery.


Our own staff enjoys the companionship and mental health benefits of pet ownership. Check out Harmony Bay Wellness staff members and some of their furry friends below:

Brent Reese, CEO’s Daughter Emma and cat, Taz

Caitlin Bates, Marketing Director and her dog, Scarlet

Diana Cofsky, dogs Maggie and Louis

Crystal Borgesi, Executive Director and her rabbit, Carson and dog, Vincenzo.

Jennifer Adamski, Telehealth Director’s Dog, Stitch

Jennifer Adamski, Telehealth Director’s Guinea Pig, Zero

 Mike Schaub, Senior Director and his dog, Eddie

AJ Soloman, Co-founder, Chris McGoldrick, Co-owner and Mike Shaub with Baby Benji


Nancy MacGregor, Therapist’s Daughter with their kitten Nyxy

Heather Wilson, Clinical Director’s two cats Shadow and Wishie

Heather Wilson, Clinical Director’s two cats Shadow and Wishie


Lauren Laggy, Marketing Coordinator with her dogs, Codi and Ray-Ray

Treatment with Harmony Bay

Harmony Bay is an outpatient behavioral health service that offers primary mental health treatment for a variety of mental health disorders. Our mission is to make mental health care convenient and affordable while providing an unmatched experience to our clients. contact us today by calling 855.765.6399.