An essay by Brian McLaughlin, Advocate

Therapeutic Value of My Pet Dog

It is now a well accepted scientific and medical fact that pets have the power to improve both physical and emotional health. Physically they are said to have a positive impact on high blood pressure, heart disease, and even cholesterol levels.

Exercise is often made easier as one might be more inclined to walk their dog than walk all by themselves. And as many of us know who are in recovery from mental illness, exercise not only fortifies the body but can be very healing to the mind and emotions.

Having a pet helps alleviate the isolation which sometimes accompanies a serious mental illness. Petting a dog or cat provides the physical contact we need but often cannot receive elsewhere. The truth is animals/pets can often touch folks with mental illness in a way that human beings cannot. This makes all the difference.

I have become a recent pet owner and I have noticed my Pup is very good at helping me avoid morbid self absorption and negative rumination. Rather I turn my thoughts to his need and in meeting those needs, I am showered with his seemingly constant attention and affection. It is hard to be down or self absorbed when one is cuddling a pup or engaged in a spirited game of fetch or tug of war.

"It is good to have another beating heart in the house" I once heard someone say. She spoke the truth and I am the better for it.

Therefore, if you have the means to provide for a pet and can also provide for the continuity of its care, I highly recommend adding such a companion to your journey towards recovery.

Respectfully submitted for your consideration,

Brian Patrick McLaughlin MS/CPS
MH Consumer Advocate
Erie County, PA.

Home Page

© 2016 Mental Health Association of Northwestern PA