They are known as ‘man’s best friend’, but why are dogs, and our other furry friends, so good for us? Whether you already own a pet, or are considering getting one, here are five reasons why - as a nation of pet lovers - we are right to embrace our four-legged friends for a happier and healthier life.
- Pets keep you active
Pets provide a perfect excuse to get out and keep active – whether it’s a jog through the woods with your dog or just a quick walk to pick up some cat food. Research shows that older adults who own a dog, have a lower body mass index, make fewer visits to the doctor and do more exercise. The stronger the bond with your pooch, the more likely you are to want to spend a greater amount of time outside with them. So make the most of owning a dog and get outdoors!
- Pets boost your social life
Dog walking is a great way of socialising as dogs make fantastic icebreakers and help spark conversations with fellow owners who are out and about. Bumping into the same dog walkers frequently provides a chance to build up friendships, while dog clubs can offer the perfect opportunity to meet likeminded dog lovers. So not only can pets make great companions, but they can help you find human companions too! This can be especially uplifting for those who may have lost a partner or moved away from family and friends.
- De-stress with pets
Animals are used frequently as therapy dogs to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, with charities, such as Pets as Therapy providing therapeutic visiting services to universities and care homes. Pets can have calming effects - being around them helps to release the hormone oxytocin in the body which brings feelings of joy, as well as a reduction of the stress hormone, cortisol. The routine of owning a pet can allow consistency, which can also reduce stress and uncertainty. Cat hair and chewed slippers may therefore be a small price to pay in return for the mental health benefits that pets can have.
- Unwavering companionship
Pets can be our greatest companions, just ask Christopher McCarron who picked his Rottweiler to be his best man (or should we say dog) at his wedding! Pets become a part of the family, which can prevent isolation and feelings of depression, with 52% of adults over the age of 55 finding companionship easier with a dog or a cat for company. Whether it’s sharing a bed with them or seeing your dog’s wagging tail when you come home – pets will always be there as a source of comfort.
- They make us happy!
Research has found that pets can improve our overall wellbeing and bring happiness to our lives - watching cat videos alone has been found to boost energy and positive emotions. Pets bring out the laughter in six out of ten dog or cat owners, with 31% of people saying that pets give them a purpose in life, helping to boost self-worth.
With a number of benefits to owning a pet, what’s stopping you? If it’s not possible to own a pet full-time, or you feel unsure about taking the plunge, sites such as Borrow my Doggy let you experience the joy of having a pet, when convenient for you. After all, they may really be the key to happiness!