Main Article Content
Animal-assisted interventions (AAIs) have exhibited encouraging outcomes in enhancing human mental health. However, research has investigated the potential benefits of untrained pets for human mental wellbeing, as training animals for AAI can be costly and time-consuming. However, despite times of grief representing a significant risk factor for poor mental wellbeing, to date few studies have explored how pets may protect owner mental wellbeing during this period. This qualitative study explored how pet ownership impacts owner’s mental wellbeing during times of grief, and through what mechanisms. This study used semi-structured interviews to interview pet owners who had lost a loved one (human) in the last 2 years. Twelve participants took part in the interviews which were analysed with thematic analysis. The analysis determined three key themes: hedonic wellbeing, feeling connected, and emotion regulation. The mechanisms that lead to owners’ mental wellbeing during times of grief were varied, including things like cuddling and walking pets, as well as just being in their presence. The key benefits owners derived from these activities and interactions are discussed. The findings of this study highlights how different owner-pet activities and interactions bring differing benefits. While further studies are necessary, these preliminary findings can help inform current guidelines on pet ownership, and further understanding how these key relationships in times of grief. Future research should explore further the mechanisms related to pet ownership and grief.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Authors will be the copyright proprietor of their own work although they have accepted to use a creative common license, specifically CC-Attribution-NonComercial-ShareAlike_4.0