February 9, 2017

Single on Valentine's Day? Not if you have a pet or a local animal shelter

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — If the feeling of loneliness creeps in this Valentine's Day, don't fret. Instead, volunteer at a local animal shelter or give a pet some extra attention.

"We tend to do a lot of things with animals that we would also do with another human," said Alan Beck, the Dorothy N. McAllister professor of animal ecology and director of the Center of the Human-Animal Bond at Purdue. "We talk to them and interact with them as though they were human."

Beck said having an animal is a great substitute for a significant other on Valentine's Day because they are like "family on demand." Just watching a pet or other animals makes humans feel more relaxed and life feel a little easier.

Having a pet or interacting with an animal can give people some of the same comforts of being around other family or friends such as talking, feeling less lonely, finding comfort with touch, the joy of caring and nurturing, being stimulated to exercise, finding reasons to laugh and serving as a focus for attention. All of these reduce stress.

Even just having a fish tank can help ease stress, he said.

"Most people recognize the call to be a part of nature or to watch it," Beck said. "Owning an animal is a way for us to do that."

If owning a pet isn't an option, there is always the local animal shelter. Many shelters need dog walkers and people to interact with the animals. Making a plan to go to a shelter on or around Valentine's Day can be a great way to fight the holiday blues.

Beck also said the animals benefit from the contact as well. 

Writer: Megan Huckaby, 765-496-1325, mhuckaby@purdue.edu

Sources: Alan Beck, Dorothy N. McAllister professor of animal ecology, 765-494-0854, abeck@purdue.edu

Purdue University, 610 Purdue Mall, West Lafayette, IN 47907, (765) 494-4600

© 2015-17 Purdue University | An equal access/equal opportunity university | Copyright Complaints | Maintained by Office of Strategic Communications

Trouble with this page? Disability-related accessibility issue? Please contact News Service at purduenews@purdue.edu.