Whether you’re a dog person or cat person, it’s true that we’re a nation of animal lovers! Our beloved furry companions keep us entertained, keep us company and make us laugh but, more importantly, they can be incredibly beneficial to both our physical and mental wellbeing. Here’s how…
Four reasons why pets lift our mood
Unconditional love - Your four-legged friend will never question you or make you feel worse when you’re down. When things aren’t going your way, they’ll be there for a loving cuddle and support through thick and thin.
Self-worth - Taking care of a pet is a huge responsibility and the fact your pet is totally reliant on you can bring great feelings of pleasure and self-worth. This is especially the case after retirement which can make some people feel adrift.
Routine - Having a strict routine in life can be an instant mood booster. Taking care of a pet means forcing yourself to get up in the morning to let them outside and make sure they have some breakfast. For some people, taking a dog for a walk forces them to get out and enjoy some fresh air.
Doing good - Adopting a pet from a rescue centre can provide you with a great sense of satisfaction and fulfillment in knowing you have given an animal in need a loving, caring home.
There’s nothing quite like a cuddle with a fluffy friend. It’s been proven that regular interaction with animals can increase levels of oxytocin (the stress-reducing hormone) while decreasing the levels of cortisol (the stress hormone), bringing us into a more relaxed state. So, if you find yourself feeling anxious, stressed or worried, stroking a pet may be the key to calming you down.
Pets don’t just offer emotional support. There’s a lot of evidence to suggest that having one can also help you avoid future heart problems – their calming nature prevents our heart rate and blood pressure from climbing too high.
Some studies have shown that pets could be the answer to keeping cholesterol low after it was found that the triglyceride level (a type of fat in certain foods that can cause high cholesterol) in pet owners was lower than those without. It’s not fully understood why this is, but scientists presume it could be down to the increase in physical activity when having a pet.
Living with pets can make you less likely to develop illnesses or allergies than someone who has never had pets around them. Believe it or not, the dirt that pets carry in their fur is actually good for us. The good bacteria that pets pick up in their fur when they’re out and about is great for helping our gut fight off diseases.
Studies have shown that having a pet in the room while you sleep can improve sleep patterns and the quality of sleep quite considerably. It’s thought this is because we feel safer and more secure with a pet in the room, leaving us to feel more comfortable and relaxed.
Be more sociable
Pets are a great way of providing comfort when lonely and could even open the door to new relationships – whether it’s meeting someone when you’re walking the dog or using your love of cats as common ground to start a conversation. It can begin with merely a hello and, over time, can develop into a long-term friendship.
Your pet pooch could be your perfect workout buddy if you’re looking to get fit. Finding the motivation to stay active can be hard, but when your dog needs exercise, it’s much easier to take a long walk and when you get back have a play with them in the garden.
Celebs talk pets
“Cats have a scam going – you buy the food, they eat the food, they go away; that’s the deal.” Eddie Izzard
“Some of my best leading men have been dogs and horses.” Elizabeth Taylor
“People want to marry me for companionship. No thanks! I’ve got my cats for that!” Ruth Rendell
“I have found that when you are deeply troubled, there are things you get from the silent devoted companionship of a dog that you can get from no other source.” Doris Day
For more pet-care tips, pick up the latest copy of Yours magazine