Pets Reduce Stress in Arrowhead Students

The idea of having a pet has been around for over 30,000 years. Though originally only seen as acceptable for the wealthy, in 2016 Americans own over 198 million different pets, with the most being cats, totaling around 85 million, and the least being reptiles, totaling around 9 million.


“I have four cats,” said senior Ashley Wieland, “I think they help to reduce my stress.”


John Hopkins Medicine released an article describing the benefits of owning a pet. The largest one was the effects pets have on stress. John Hopkins cites that, “simply petting a dog lowers the stress hormone cortisol” and that “interaction between people and their dogs actually increases levels of the feel-good hormone oxytocin.” John Hopkins also claims that 84% of PTSD patients had reduced symptoms and 40% were able to lower their medication when they were paired with a service dog. 


On top of mental benefits, pets can also physically help by lowering blood pressure, boosting heart health, and benefiting those who have mobility issues, claims John Hopkins. 


Senior Jessica LaValley said, “I have two dogs. I go on walks with them and I think that’s good for me.”


Specifically for students, a study done by Washington State University shows that petting dogs and cats can “relieve feelings of stress and pressure in college students with a high academic workload.”


Since 2015, Arrowhead allows students to interact with animals during the week of exams. The animals are therapy dogs, in which students are welcome to come into their campus library during certain time slots and pet the dogs.


During last semester’s exams, Arrowhead had four therapy dogs, Fergus, Tully, Roxie, and Mac, who were handled by Hope Erickson, Carol Pasbrig, Kathryn Engel, and Kerry Luderus. The handlers and their dogs were picked out specifically by Associate Principal Becky Gordon.