Research reveals pet ownership decreases loneliness

New research reveals that Brits are losing their sense of connection with others, with feelings of loneliness and anxiety overwhelming the nation.

According to a new study by Mars Petcare UK, a fifth of adults now feel more comfortable interreacting with people online than they do in person.

As a result, a third of people feel nervous when meeting new people and alarmingly, four in ten Brits experience pangs of worry at the thought of going out with their own friends.

The research reveals, however that our pets could be the solution to reconnecting with others and decreasing our feelings of loneliness.

More than half of pet owners (54%) felt that they found socialising ‘easier’ upon getting a pet. As a consequence, nine in ten reported feelings of loneliness reduced after getting a new pet.

Nearly 50% described these feelings to have dramatically reduced just days after their new pets’ arrival.

Corinne Sweet, Human Psychotherapist and author said: “Building a relationship with a pet is a major step towards breaking down feelings of isolation, loneliness and anxiety. People confide in their pets: calm down by stroking and grooming them and get exercise by taking them for walks – even a trip to the vet is a way of getting out and meeting new people.

“Pets can welcome you home, give you physical and emotional contract, and make you feel important. They can help with heartbreak, illness and separation, and be a family ‘hub’ when times are tough. On an ‘evolutionary psychological’ level humans have always interacted and co-existed with animals, so it is a symbolic relationship with deep emotional roots.”

Mars Petcare UK has launched “Thank You Pets”, an invitation for pet owners around the country to thank and celebrate the vast benefits their pets bring to their lives, both physically, mentally and socially.

From reducing feelings of loneliness and anxiety, to forging a connection with the wider community and encouraging an increase in physical activity, pets can truly make our lives better.

More than half of Brits who don’t own a pet admit that they would like to get one in the future. Further to this, 74% of 18-24-year-olds would like to own a pet compared to just 37% of 55 plus year olds.

However, Mars Petcare UK found that there are currently a number of barriers to owning a pet, which include, working long hours, landlords not allowing pets in rented property and expense.

Deri Watkins, General Manager at Mars Petcare UK explains: “We know that when people bring pets into their lives, there are proven benefits to general well-being, mental health and social cohesion. The vast range of positives that pets bring is something that we want to celebrate this National pet Day by saying thank you to all UK pets.

“Everyone deserves the right to enjoy the benefits that pets bring to our lives. Working with policy makers and local communities, our mission at Mars Petcare UK is to help eradicate pet homelessness by breaking down the barriers that stop people from enjoying the company, love and loyalty of owning a pet.

“From making it easier for pet owners to lease properties to working with businesses to make their offices more pet friendly, Mars Petcare aims to tackle this from all angles.”

For more information about the campaign and to join in, you can visit www.mars.co.uk/doing-our-part/thank-you-pets.