‘Pets Are Like That, I Guess, They Know How To Fix You Without Saying A Word’
It’s National Pet Month! A time to celebrate and share the benefits of animal companions. As well as providing us with entertainment and cuddles, animals are essential in improving physical and mental health, supporting wellbeing and enriching communities. Canine companions even trigger neural pathways similar to the parent and baby bond which can reduce mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and loneliness. Here are some specific ways that pets can benefit wellbeing:
Pets and Depression
- Interacting with animals has been shown to promote the release of serotonin, prolactin and oxytocin – mood elevating hormones that help to combat stress, low mood and depression
- Keeping a dog happy and healthy requires daily walks! Exercise is great for both humans and animals alike, releasing endorphins in the body that reduce the perception of pain and trigger positivity
- The routine of caring for a pet gives individuals who struggle with motivation the incentive to carry out everyday tasks, creating a sense of achievement and in turn reducing feelings of depression
Pets and Loneliness
- Taking a dog for a walk provides the opportunity for social interaction with others in the community, reducing loneliness and isolation as well as creating a chance to meet likeminded people.
- Pet ownership contributes to a stronger sense of identity and purpose for those who feel disconnected from the world around them
Pets and Anxiety
- As well as combating depression, the mood elevating hormones that are released through interacting with animals also reduce anxiety and panic.
- The necessity of feeding, walking and caring for animals gives owners the courage to complete tasks, leave the house and fulfil a routine, which otherwise may be challenging
Pets and ADHD
- Individuals with ADHD often find that playing with, and comforting animals releases excess energy, helping to minimise hyperactivity and distraction. In addition, fulfilling animals needs such as exercise and food, helps with forming routines and taking up responsibilities.
Pets and Autism Spectrum Condition
- Animal-assisted therapy has been shown to support people with ASC to engage with their environment and form social bonds, whilst keeping them safe from harm and reducing sensory overload.
Pets and children and adults with additional needs
- Dogs are highly intelligent and intuitive, able to assist humans and even save lives. Specially trained dogs can be used to detect allergens, diabetic attacks and seizures, guide those with auditory, visual or mobility issues, and provide aid to individuals with psychiatric conditions and learning difficulties
- Interacting with any animal, big or small, helps people to feel supported and worthy
Pets and everyone!
- Animals don’t discriminate or judge, they provide us with unconditional love
No wonder there is a whole month of the year dedicated to the benefit of animal companions! This is why it is so important to look after our pets responsibly, making sure we have the space, time and dedication to care for each animal appropriately.