More than just animals to play with and adore, pets can help improve your mental and physical health, too. However, not enough of us who need them are taking advantage of these benefits. A research paper by UCLA Health states that pets are underutilized forms of therapy, even though there are countless examples of how beneficial they can be. (Fun fact: The same paper also states animal-assisted therapy can be traced back hundreds ofyears, including rabbits and chickens in 1790, farm animals in 1867 and dogs in the 1970s.) 

Marivic Dizon, PhD, a licensed psychologist in California and coordinator for the Pet Assisted Therapy program with the Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA, has seen time and time again how pet therapy can work wonders in people’s lives. “In both my personal and professional lives, I’ve witnessed how pets can help provide stress relief, increase relaxation, reduce depression and isolation, and be a source of social support,” she tells LivingHealthy.

Whether or not you’re in a funk, you might want to consider adding a pet to your life as a way to improve your overall health and well-being. Here are six to consider.



  1. AVMA U.S. Pet Ownership Statistics
  2. UCLA Health: Health Benefits of Animal-Assisted Interventions
  3. UCLA Health: American Heart Association Abstract - "Dogs ease anxiety..."