Pets, attachment, and well-being across the life cycle

Soc Work. 1995 May;40(3):334-41.


Using an ethological framework of attachment developed by Bowlby and the social provisions of relationships delineated by Weiss, this article explores the ways in which family pets, in particular dogs and cats, provide certain components of attachment that contribute to emotional and social well-being throughout the life cycle. Pets may supply ongoing comfort and reduce feelings of loneliness during adversity or stressful transitions such as divorce or bereavement. They can also provide an opportunity to nurture others. In clinical practice it helps to be aware of how significant a pet may be to a client. Implications are identified for social policies that will protect and maintain this bond for particular populations, such as elderly people in nursing homes or retirement communities and individuals going through a life transition.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Domestic / psychology*
  • Cats
  • Dogs
  • Human-Animal Bond*
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events
  • Psychological Theory
  • Social Adjustment*
  • Social Work
  • United States