05 May The positive benefits of owning a pet
Pet paw-sitivity and mental health benefits
The bond we create with our pets is like no other. And although we physically look after our pets, they do so much more to take care of us than we realise.
With 51% of adults in the UK owning a pet in 2020, it’s fair to say that our furry friends bring a lot to our daily lives, whether that’s laughter, frustration or even a little bit of crazy.
But a pet can be a great source of comfort and it’s important to highlight that as well as their innocent nature and unconditional love, there’s a whole host other of benefits that owning a pet can bring. Specifically to your mental health.
How pets can impact your mental health:
Maintaining a social network isn’t always easy, especially as we go through big life changes such as moving home, growing older and changes to our family circumstances. Owning a pet helps you stay connected with the outside world, whether it’s taking your dog out for a walk, nipping to the shops for some cat food or going into the garden to clean your rabbit’s pen.
These kinds of tasks come hand in hand (or paw in paw) with taking on a pet and are thought to ultimately increase self-confidence and ease feelings of social anxiety.
Responsibility and purpose
Having a pet gives you a reason to get up and go each day. Another creature is relying on you to feed them, walk them, play with them and even more! Pets can often provide a sense of purpose to their owner’s lives, which results in regular motivation and long term dependability.
Caring for your pet brings about a daily purpose and a sense of reward, which is most commonly associated with reducing the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
It’s no secret that any pet can provide companionship to the right owner. This is especially true for the elderly and those individuals living alone, who often find themselves in isolation.
It’s not uncommon for pet owners to talk to their pets and seek their comfort during difficult times. And there’s nothing more comforting that coming home to a wagging tail or purring cat.
As well as this sense of companionship, a pet can ease socialisation with other people. Many people find a common interest when talking about cats, dogs and rabbits, and that can easily be the start of a puppy playdate or sharing some pet pictures!
Calmness and reduce stress
Animals don’t have an extensive concept of yesterday or tomorrow, they live very much in the present day. This attitude can quite easily be passed onto the owner, which increases a state of mindfulness and offers a distraction from the stresses of the previous day.
It’s also thought that the body motion and sense of touch involved in stroking a pet can quickly bring about a calmness and relieve instant signs of stress.
This has been particularly important during the Covid-19 pandemic, where it’s thought that having an animal in the home counteracted the stress associated with the UK lockdowns. You can find out more by reading our latest blog, Pets and the recent pandemic.