March 18, 2020

Can your pet help you cope during social distancing? Science says yes.

WHAT: The coronavirus pandemic is forcing people all over the world to practice social distancing and stay home – but some of their housemates might be making the transition easier: their pets.

Researchers at the Center for the Human-Animal Bond in Purdue’s College of Veterinary Medicine say pets can provide a source of social support during stressful times and that interacting with companion animals can provide stress relief that can be measured biologically. For example, a recent study showed how service dogs can have measurable positive effects on the health and well-being of individuals with physical disabilities.

ohaire-profile Maggie O’Haire, associate professor of human-animal interaction in the Purdue College of Veterinary Medicine, is leading research that reveals the science behind how companion animals support humans. (Purdue University photo/Rebecca McElhoe) Download image

EXPERTS: Maggie O’Haire, associate professor of human-animal interaction in the Purdue College of Veterinary Medicine, can discuss the science behind how pets bring comfort to their owners in a time of social distancing. Kerri Rodriguez, a human-animal interaction graduate student, also can speak to this topic.

QUOTE: "During a time when many people are practicing social distancing from their human support networks, animal companionship may be an increasingly important source of social support,” O’Haire says. “Evidence from the field of human-animal interaction highlights the often profound capacity of pets to provide interaction, joy and comfort."

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Writer: Abbey Nickel, nickela@purdue.edu

Sources: Maggie O’Haire, mohaire@purdue.edu

Kerri Rodriguez, rodri403@purdue.edu 

Note to Journalists: A photo of Maggie O’Haire and a goldendoodle, as well as a stock image, are available for journalists to use at https://purdue.university/2w95pPB

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