Pets can contribute to greater personal wellbeing Posted by Justine Clarabut on 12 March, 2019

April celebrates ‘National Pet Month’!

Spending time with pets can affect your personal wellbeing which is a topic that applies to a vast amount of people!  49% of adults in the UK own a pet.  A quarter of the population owning an estimated 11.1 million cats and 24% of the population owning 8.9 million dogs!   With 20 million feline and canine friends living in the UK, it’s quite apparent that pet ownership is incredibly popular! Surely this must prove that owning a pet is a rewarding and pleasurable experience.  Science reported that a Japanese Study found that dog owners experienced an amazing 300% increase in oxytocin levels after spending half an hour with their dogs, including time gazing into their eyes.

There are many other significant advantages that owning a pet can have on personal wellbeing as follows:

A pet can be good for your heart

Obesity puts massive pressure on your heart through extra exertion and the build-up of cholesterol. Having to walk your dog encourages you to exercise which is a great way to shedding those extra pounds!   Playing with your pet at home can also get the blood pumping around your body when you may otherwise be sitting idle watching tv!  Keeping active is paramount to preventing many illnesses and pets are a great source of motivation to do this. These benefits equate to lower blood pressure which can give your heart much-needed respite!

Animals connect people

Pets are great conversation starters, in particular dogs!  Dog owners are more likely to stop and chat to other dog owners than people who are walking alone!  There are also the human interactions such as visits to the vet,  training classes, and pet shops. It can even help you connect on social media, with thousands of pet related pages and forums across the internet. You can even go the extra mile and make a social media page for your pet!

A sense of responsibility

Of course, owning a pet means you have to look after it which for some people can foster a greater sense of responsibility.  Pets can also help owners to become more affectionate and empathetic by giving them something to love, and to be loved in return. Loving and caring for a living being can make it easier to extend those feelings towards other people, often boosting relationship skills.

Pets can have a positive impact on mental health too..

The National Institute of Health discovered that owning a pet can severely lower your stress levels, and can aid recovery from stressful situations quicker than a partner or family member can!  A research study by the Mental Health Foundation on people suffering from mental health issues, has shown that “a staggering 87% of people who owned a cat believe that ownership had a positive impact on their mental wellbeing and 76% said that their feline companion helped them cope with everyday life better than they had before”  Companionship it seems is a key part to owning a pet and helps to prevent loneliness, particularly in the older generation.  Being a sole companion, they can provide a sense of purpose and routine and a reason to wake up every morning.

Of course, taking on a pet is a decision that needs huge consideration and one that cannot be taken lightly.  Bringing a pet into your life will have a big impact in terms of responsibility, financial commitment and time management.  Owning a pet will inevitably bring about many changes to how you currently live your life.  So before making that next step in pet ownership, please do take the time to read this free pet care guide for new owners.

 

 

References and further reading

https://www.pdsa.org.uk/get-involved/our-campaigns/pdsa-animal-wellbeing-report/uk-pet-populations-of-dogs-cats-and-rabbits
https://www.humana.com/prevention-and-care/healthy-living-and-prevention/emotional-health/pets
https://greatperformersacademy.com/health/20-reasons-why-having-a-pet-will-make-you-happier
https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/p/pets-and-mental-health
https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2015/04/how-dogs-stole-our-hearts