Having pets may help college students handle stressful situations better

December 26, 2008

Having a pet may make it a bit easy for college students to handle stressful situations, according to a study.

While previous studies have already suggested that pets can improve the quality of life for those ageing or chronically ill, the latest study from Ohio State University focused on whether owning a cat or a dog can prove beneficial for college students.

The study involved a survey of students and other adults, and showed that nearly 25 percent of college goers believed their pets helped them get through difficult times in life.

The surveyors found that students owning at least one dog, one cat, or a combination of the two were less likely to report feeling lonely and depressed.

Such students also attributed these beneficial effects to their beloved pets.

Sara Staats, lead author of the study and professor emeritus of psychology at Ohio State’s Newark Campus, said that the new findings suggested that even younger, healthier young adults could benefit from living with animals.

“We might not think of college students as being lonely, but a lot of freshman and sophomores are in an early transition from living at home to living in dorms or off-campus. College is a very stressful environment for them and sometimes they can feel isolated or overwhelmed with the change,” she said.

“We found that a lot of young adults are choosing to have an animal companion for important reasons. Many feel their pets will help get them through these difficult and stressful situations, and many more say that without their pet, they would feel lonely,” she added.

An article on the study has been published in the journal Society and Animals.

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