How Pets Can Improve Your Health & Wellbeing
Header image by @panamapaws on Instagram
If you are a pet owner, no doubt you already notice how much of a positive impact your pets have on your mood. Whether it's being welcomed back home after a long day at work, or waking you up in the morning ready to play, the positive impact of a cat or dogs presence is huge. But what’s more than this, is that research has shown that animal companionship can help prevent feelings of loneliness which can be linked to poor health. In a survey, Cats Protection found that out of 600 people surveyed, 86% of people who owned a cat felt it had a positive impact on their wellbeing, while 76% believed that pet ownership made coping with life easier. So whilst many of us are aware of the joy our pets bring, a lot of pet owners are unaware of the physical and mental health benefits of sharing your life with an animal companion. In fact, it’s only recently that studies have begun to scientifically explore the benefits of the human-animal bond.
Image by @panamapaws on Instagram. Io and Janosch wear our Inca Pink collars.
Pets have evolved to understand humans and our behaviours and emotions. Dogs, for example, are able to understand many of the words we use, but they’re even better at interpreting our tone of voice, body language, and gestures. And like any good friend, a dog will often look into your eyes to work out your emotions and try to understand what you’re thinking and feeling. Pets, especially dogs and cats, can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, ease loneliness, encourage exercise and playfulness, and even improve your physical health too. Caring for an animal can help children grow up more secure and active. Pets also provide valuable companionship for older adults. Most of all, a pet can add real joy and unconditional love to your life.
Wolf wears our Shuka Blue Collar and matching Dog Bow Tie.
Studies have shown that:
- Pet owners are less likely to suffer from depression than those without pets.
- People with pets have lower blood pressure in stressful situations than those without pets. One study even found that when people with borderline hypertension adopted dogs from a shelter, their blood pressure declined significantly within five months.
- Playing with a dog or cat can increase levels of serotonin and dopamine, the 'happy chemicals' in our brain which help keep us calm and relaxed.
- Pet owners have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels (indicators of heart disease) than those without pets.
- Heart attack patients with pets survive longer than those without.
- Pet owners over age 65 make 30% fewer visits to their doctors than those without pets.
One of the reasons for these positive effects is that pets fulfil the basic human need for touch and affection. Studies show that even incarcerated prisoners show long-term changes in their behaviour after interacting with pets. Stroking, hugging, or otherwise interacting with a loving animal can rapidly calm and soothe you when you’re stressed or anxious. The companionship of a pet can also ease loneliness, and most dogs often provide their owners with a great reason for healthy exercise, which can substantially boost your mood and ease depression.
Wolf wears our Fireworks Harness and Classic Lead.
Caring for our pets, especially dogs, can also lead to healthy lifestyle changes, which not only help to improve physical health, but can also help to improve mental and emotional wellbeing too. Some of the lifestyle changes that are common amongst pet owners are:
Increased exercise. Taking a dog for a walk is a fun and rewarding way to fit daily exercise into your schedule, plus it is necessary for Fido! Studies have shown that dog owners are far more likely to meet their daily exercise requirements, and exercising every day is great for your dog as well.
Preventing loneliness. Animal companionship can help prevent illness and even add years to your life, while isolation and loneliness can trigger symptoms of depression, studies have shown. Caring for a pet can help make you feel needed and wanted, adding purpose to your life and often minimising the weight of your problems, especially if you live with no other humans. Nothing beats loneliness like coming home to a wagging tail or purring cat.
Help you meet new people. Pets can be great for helping their owners get into social situation. Your pet can help you start and maintain new friendships with other pet owners through a common interest - your love of animals. Dog owners will often stop and talk to each other on walks, helping you to meet new people in pet shops, puppy clubs, and training classes.
Reducing anxiety. The company of a pet can be incredibly comforting, help to ease anxiety, and build self-confidence. Stroking a dog, cat, or other animal can lower blood pressure and help you quickly feel calmer and less stressed. Pets are proven to help their owners to be more mindful and appreciate the joy of the everyday.
Adding structure & routine to your day. Many pets, especially dogs, require a regular feeding and exercise schedule. Having a consistent routine keeps an animal balanced and calm and it can benefit their owner, too. No matter your mood you know you’ll have to get out of bed to feed, exercise, and care for your beloved pet, which in turn makes it easier to care for yourself.
Hiro wears our Inca Blue Collar and matching Cafe Lead.
Our pets give us so much love, it is amazing to know all the other wonderful benefits of pet ownership too! Next time you curl up on the sofa with your canine or kitty companion, give them an extra tight squeeze to say "thank you." How has your pet improved your life? Let us know in the comments below!