Why your pet is good for your mental health too

It’s scientifically proven, pets improve your well-being. Here are eight extra reasons to love your pet even more - yes, it’s possible!

  1. They keep you healthy. Pets keep you active. You have to walk them but it’s not all. Playing with them keeps you fit too. They keep your heart healthy by lowering your blood pressure.
  2. They make you feel less lonely. Because they are always around for a big cuddle when you feel a bit down, you are never alone. They also allow you to meet other people who have pets as you share a common interest and can talk about your pets together.
  3. They reduce your anxiety. Pets have a calming but also happy effect on people. Their companionship is reassuring and their presence makes you feel calm instantly - ok, not when they bark madly at the delivery courier! They also make you laugh when they are silly and can instantly improve your mood – and your mental well-being – by bringing more joy to your day.
  4. They boost your self-confidence because you feel free with your pet. You can feel free to say the things you don’t dare say to anyone, which is a very liberating feeling. You can tell your pet anything, they will always listen and never judge.
  5. They help you get over your shyness as you can be yourself without feeling under pressure.
  6. They help you manage your time better and less chaos in your day if you’re easily distracted or have ADHD, as they need specific care at regular times. They teach you to structure your day as you need to think of when you have to feed your dog, when you have to walk them etc. They are creatures of habits and it’s good for you too.
  7. They give you a sense of purpose. Because you have to think of them and not just yourself, you become more responsible and doing the jobs they need you to do give you a greater sense of purpose and achievement. They teach you that caring for others feels good too!
  8. They help to boost your immunity. Having a pet in your home from a young age can help to reduce your risk of developing allergies as your pets expose you to bacteria and allergens. Research shows that if you grow up with a ‘furred’ animal you may be less prone to allergies, asthma and skin issues like eczema. As your body gets used to fight allergens when you are exposed to them, you don’t feel as sick as you would without the immunity you got from your pet.

 What if I can’t have a pet?

 You get similar benefit from spending time with any pet, so ask your friends if you can help them look after theirs when you visit or visit your local animal refuge or shelter and see if you can help. SPCA centres are always looking for volunteers to help them care for animals.

Another easy option is to offer your elderly neighbours to walk their pets for them or to simply play with them in your garden if you have space. They may enjoy the extra fun and physical activity.

3 easy tips to relax quickly with your pets:

  1. Walk: take your dog for a walk or a run, they will love it and it will kick off your happy hormones too (the messengers that tell your brain to be happy).
  2. Play: playing with your pet will make you forget about your worries and put a smile on your face in minutes. You will feel calmer and happier.
  3. Cuddles: the power of touch is often underestimated but giving your pet a big cuddle will calm your senses immediately.