Graduation Date


Document Type

Senior Thesis


Bachelor of Science

Primary Major

Global Public Health

Primary Minor


Program Director

Patti Culross, MPH, MD

Thesis Advisor

Brett Bayles, MPH, PhD


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the burden of mental illness in the United States, especially among young adults (Czeisler et. al., 2020).

Objective: The purpose of this study is to determine whether pet ownership has an effect on the mental health, specifically depression and anxiety, of students at Dominican University of California during COVID-19.

Methods: This study was a cross-sectional quantitative survey that included demographic questions as well as questions developed from modified questions from validated survey items. Data was collected on whether participants owned or lived with any pets. Participants who answered “yes” were asked whether the companion animal(s) were a source of consistency, promote exercise, and help the participant cope with COVID-19. All participants were asked the seven mental health questions taken from the Depression Anxiety Stress Scale-21. Participants were recruited from Dominican University of California. A total of 70 individuals participated in the survey, 10 responses were omitted from the results because the individuals did not complete the mental health portion of the survey. The data was analyzed using SPSS Statistics (version 26).

Results: The median age of pet owners was 21.58 (S.D. 3.96). The cumulative mental health score of pet owners was 8.42 (S.D. 4.58). The cumulative mental health score of non-pet owners was 10.14 (S.D. 4.98). The difference between the cumulative mental health scores of pet owners and non-pet owners was not statistically significant (1.35 (58), 0.18).