Many college students face tough transitions moving away from friends, family and the support system they have at home. This can make college a stressful and lonely environment, and owning a pet can help some students cope.
Though owning a pet takes a lot of hard work and time, given the right circumstances it could help students deal with the stress, anxiety and loneliness that sometimes accompanies going to college.
According to a 2012 International Journal of Workplace Health Management study titled, “Preliminary Investigation of Employee’s Dog Presence on Stress and Organizational Perceptions,” those in the workplace with a dog were less stressed than those without.
Pets have been used to improve quality of life for patients in hospitals and residents in nursing homes, and they can definitely improve the life of a college student who might be lonely or stressed.
According to a spring 2012 Winona State University study titled “Animal-Assisted Therapy: The Human-Animal Bond In Relation To Human Health And Wellness,” the bond between an animal and elderly patients give the patients a sense of responsibility. Animals can also give the elderly a sense of self-worth and a feeling of purpose back into their lives, giving them a better quality of life.
This same study also conducted an experiment to test how levels of anxiety differ for those around animals, and those who are not around animals. The study showed that those who were around animals reported significantly less anxiety levels than those who were not around animals.
According to a Feb. 3, 2014 American Heart Association article titled, “Owning a Pet May Protect You from Heart Disease,” pets can oftentimes lead to more activity. In turn, pet owners may exercise more, thus lowering their risk of heart disease.
Not every college student should go out and purchase a pet right away, because not every student is ready to care for a pet. Some students, however, have a harder time dealing with transitions throughout college, and those students should consider the idea of a four-legged friend to keep them company.
A few things that students should consider before picking out their new furry friend, be aware of the financial responsibilities that come with owning a pet. Between food, veterinary bills, accommodations and housing and the everyday expenses that owning a pet comes along with, students should be in a place where they can successfully care for their pet, regardless of the costs.
Nicole Walker is a junior in social sciences.