Owning a pet is good for your mental health
With over 20 million pets in the UK, it’s fair to say we are a nation of animal lovers! But what is it about dogs, cats and all of the other creatures we love that makes them so special?
It could be the simple fact that pets are good for our health. Our mental health to be exact.
Owning a pet can be beneficial in so many ways. So many of us are anxious, depressed, stressed out or tired, and often, a pet can keep us focused. Animals require care, shelter, food and love. For this reason, they can give us purpose when we might otherwise feel useless. They offer a distraction, which can take us away from invasive negative thoughts.
Furry pets have an added benefit: stroking them releases oxytocin, which is the hormone related to stress relief, and can help to lower blood pressure and cortisol levels. A recent study found a cats purr to be medically therapeutic. People who own cats also seem to have suffer less from health conditions, get better sleep and are 40% less likely to have a heart attack, simply because cats that are loved and being cared for help their owner to relax.
Pets can encourage exercise – a dog will need walking, or for those who have outdoor animals such as horses, goats, chickens, these all need mucking out, working and exercising. This can be the push that some people need to get out, when they would otherwise hide away at home. Dog walks can also offer interaction with others, counteracting loneliness.
Alzheimer’s patients have been found to be more interactive if they have a pet as they are given companionship, and again can help to encourage exercise and distraction and provide an opportunity for meaningful chores. Alzheimer’s patients could take charge of the daily walk or be responsible for grooming the pet (with some supervision). Having a daily “job” gives them a sense of purpose and a sense of accomplishment when the chore is accomplished. As Alzheimer’s disease advances, it will become more and more important for patients to get sensory stimulation. Having an animal to pet provides comfort and may even reduce agitation and anxiety.
And of course, Guide Dogs and Helping Dogs not only aid their owner with daily tasks, they also provide companionship and encourage confidence.
Pets don’t judge, they love unconditionally and are always happy to see you, and they truly are ‘mans best friend’.
Petting,scratching and cuddling a dog could be as soothing to the mind and heart as deep meditation. Dean Koontz
I hope reading this blog has inspired and helped you with your Wellbeing in some way.
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