Pets, stress and hormones

May is National Pet Month


Luke Ellison

Luke Ellison’s dog Coco playing with his favorite rope toy.

National Pet Month is in full swing, so let’s take time to appreciate those furry friends. 

Over 65 million households in America own a pet, according to

Interacting with animals has been shown to decrease levels of cortisol, which is a stress-related hormone. Other studies have found that animals can reduce loneliness, increase feelings of social support and boost mood, according to the National Institute of Health. 

“Yes, I do believe pets reduce stress by staying by your side and always being there to comfort you,” said freshman Brynn Kimener. “Being able to pet or lay down with a pet makes you feel not alone, which in my opinion reduces stress.”

Pets and their silly, fun-loving nature often cheer people up after a day full of stress and misfortune.

“After a long day, I feel relieved when I come home and see my dog waiting for me,” said sophomore Dylan Gallahue. “I also think being with my dog helps me manage my stress.

Simply petting a dog reduces stress, due to the rise in Oxytocin levels that it produces.

According to John Hopkins Medical, Oxytocin is the same hormone that creates an attachment between mothers and their babies. Oxytocin also builds trust and promotes bonding; that’s why when people show love to their pets, they typically receive empathy and love in return. The bond developed through Oxytocin can also create social anxiety within the pet, which is why pets seem excited and relieved when their owners return home.

“My favorite thing about my dogs is how excited they are to see me when I walk in the house,” said varsity softball coach Michael Pollock.