Written by Patrick Stannah, MD at Stannah
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.
1. Pets make us happy!
Research has found that pets can improve our overall wellbeing and bring happiness to our lives. Even just watching cat videos has been found to boost energy and positive emotions.
Pets make six out of 10 dog or cat owners laugh, with 31% of people saying that pets give them a purpose in life. This also helps to boost our self-worth.
Here’s a video clip of cheeky moggy Ferial, who has taken to riding up and down on her owner’s stairlift!
2. They keep us 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!
3. Pets boost our social life
Dog walking is a great way of socialising. Dogs make fantastic ice-breakers and will 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. Alternatively dog clubs can offer the perfect opportunity to meet like-minded dog lovers.
So not only can pets make life happier by being great companions, but they can help us find human companions too! This can be especially uplifting for those of us who may have lost a partner or moved away from family and friends.
4. De-stress with pets
Animals are used frequently as therapy dogs to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Charities such as Pets as Therapy provide therapeutic visiting services to universities and care homes.
Pets can have calming effects. Being around them helps to release the happy hormone oxytocin in the body, which also reduces levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.
The routine of caring for a pet can also reduce stress and uncertainty. Shed cat hair or chewed slippers may be a small price to pay in return for all the mental health benefits pets can bring.
5. Unwavering companionship
Pets can be our greatest companions – just ask Christopher McCarron, who picked his Rottweiler to be his best “man” at his wedding!
Pets make life happier and become a part of the family, which can prevent isolation and feelings of depression. A study concluded 52% of adults over the age of 55 found companionship easier with a dog or 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 a source of comfort.
Yes, you can…
With so many 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, then sites such as Borrow my Doggy let you experience the joy of having a pet when it’s convenient for you. After all, they may really be the key to happiness!
You can snaffle £25 if your pet picture is chosen for publication on our All About You page. Pick up a copy of My Weekly for details or subscribe to have the magazine delivered!