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Lafayette Veterinary Care Center

Pet Adoption and Mental Health

corgi and cat on a couch with blanket

Many pets are deeply attuned to human behavior and emotions. They can tell when we’re angry or sad just by our body language and tone of voice. By simply being there, they have the ability to lift our spirits. It’s hard not to smile when you hear the gentle purrs of a sleeping kitten or feel a puppy lick your face.

This is why pets are often used for therapy. They can be very beneficial for people who struggle with mental disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder as well as those who are recovering from alcohol or drug addictions. In some cases, a healthy mental state can help individuals stay sober and drug-free. Adopting a pet while you’re in recovery for a substance use or mental health disorder has benefits, both for you and the animal. It can essentially improve your overall mood, ease your loneliness, and give you a sense of purpose.

If you’ve been through treatment for a substance use or a mental health disorder, or both, YOU were the focus of that treatment. Even if you were encouraged and motivated by loved ones to stick with the program, you ultimately had to shift your attention on yourself to get better. You had a goal to achieve, and a purpose to fulfill. Perhaps it was that purpose that fueled your journey to recovery. Adopting a pet can give you that same sense of purpose once the programs and treatments are over. You can give an animal a second chance at life and in turn that pet will give unconditional love.

If you’re in recovery and/ or trying to cope with a mental illness, you may want to consider the many benefits of adopting a pet, both mental and physical. There are hundreds of centers all over the country filled with dogs, cats, and other pets awaiting their “furever” homes. Just be sure to that you’re able to commit to a pet for their lifetime before adopting.

Before You Adopt:

  1. Remember that a pet is a long-term commitment that will require time, money, patience, and love.

  2. Be prepared for a thorough application process and possibly a home inspection.

  3. Make sure that you can afford a pet. There are typically adoption fees and you will need to provide food and veterinary care as well.

  4. Once you’re prepared, find a shelter or rescue organization near you. You can begin your search at Petfinder.