Systematic Review of The Mental Health Considerations of Having an Animal Companion for Low-Income Populations
Objective: To review literature on the impact of companion animals on mental health in low-income populations.
Methods: PubMed and CINAHL were used to identify literature on the relationships between mental health and the presence of a companion animal in low-income populations.
Results: Certain factors, like the cost of animal care or the destruction of property by an animal, were shown to be stressors, but overall, animal companions were found to have a strong positive association with owner’s improved mental state. This may be due to increased social interaction and routine formation.
Conclusions: The benefit of pet ownership is suggested by research to have an overall positive impact on the mental state of low-income owners. Support structures providing greater access to food, toys, and veterinary care for impoverished pet owners would provide many with the resources needed to support their animal and in turn, their own mental health.