Ten reasons why having a pet is good for your health

Find out why furbabies can help improve your mental health and overall wellbeing.

Having a furry companion, be it a dog, cat or even a rabbit can do wonders for your mental health, which became particularly evident during lockdown.

Around 90% of British pet owners said that owning a pet made them feel mentally healthier in a survey done last year. Cat and rabbit owners were slightly behind at 85% and 81% respectively.

Pets have such a positive impact on their owners and studies have found that they can do so much more than we think. Here are ten reasons from Marltons about why we need pets:

  1. They understand more than you think: dogs are able to understand a range of words we often use and can interpret our tone of voice, body language and gestures to try to gauge what we are thinking and feeling.
  2. Our body physically responds to interaction with pets: studies have found that touching a friendly pet can lead to lowered blood pressure, slower heart rate and relaxed muscle tension – all signs of reduced stress.
  3. Playing with pets calms you down: be it throwing a ball in the garden for your dog or watching your cat chase it’s favourite mouse toy around the house – playing with a pet can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, which act to calm and relax you.
  4. Emotional therapy and prevents loneliness: Pets fulfill the basic human need for love, touch and affection. Emotional support dogs are being recognised as a vital part of mental health treatment. Infact, pet owners tend to be less likely to suffer from depression
  5. Mental and physical companion for elderly: Pets prove to be a lifeline to encourage social interaction and are regularly used in alternative therapies in the treatment of depression, and even more complex therapies related to Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia.
  6. Good for your heart: Pet owners tend to have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels (indicators of heart disease) and heart attack patients with pets survive longer.
  7. Ease pain and suffering: Pets are used to help children with cancer deal with pain and anxiety.
  8. Help you achieve mindfulness: Having a reason to ‘paws’ for thought gives people a much-needed sense of purpose.
  9. Behaviour therapy: Even hardened criminals show long-term changes in their behaviour after interacting with pets, as many of them experience mutual affection for the first time.
  10. Encourage social interaction: Birds are a lovely companion for the elderly, as they give them someone to talk to and care for and can assist in keeping the mind sharp.

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