If you own a pet we don’t need to tell you how they brighten your day at the wag of a tail or the twitch of a nose. But did you know that scientific studies have also shown that owning a pet can be good for your physical and mental health?
Pets help keep your body healthy
Regular walks help dog owners get lots of exercise themselves, but the benefits of dog ownership don’t end there. Dogs can often break the ice in social situations, helping dog owners meet other people and feel less lonely.
Running with a dog is great exercise for both of you, and can help you feel safer if you’re running in the evening.
Growing up with pets is great for children’s health, too. Playing with a cat or dog can help keep your kids active.
For owners with physical health problems, assistance is not limited to Guide Dogs: pets can become unofficial support animals for owners. As well as offering comfort and emotional support, there have been cases of pets predicting their owner’s fits, helping them after a fall or warning about serious illnesses.
Pets are great for our mental health
There’s plenty of evidence to show that pets can be great for our mental health, too. The PDSA Animal Welfare (PAW) Report 2018 found that 94% of pet owners said owning a pet makes them happy.
Pets can also help their owners feel less fearful or lonely. Some older pet owners say their pet is their only friend and feel a bond equal to a friendship with another person.
Children too can benefit emotionally from having a pet and will seek them out when they are feeling upset, which may be helpful during stressful life events.
David and Ted’s story
When David was struggling with mental health issues, he found the support he needed in best friend Ted. Their story shows the huge impact pets can have on our lives: