National Pet Month highlights the important place that pets have in our lives, as well as our responsibility to ensure we keep them happy and healthy too.
In the 2019 PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report, 86% of dog, cat and rabbit owners agree that owning a pet improves their physical and mental health.
In their latest Pet Care Column, PDSA look at why pets are important with research showing that there can be many physical benefits for pet owners.
Dog owners in particular will generally be more active if they are getting out for walks, and this increased activity can have a multitude of positive effects on our health.
There’s also some evidence that pets can help their owners be more resilient in the face of stressful life events like recovering from a serious illness.
However, pets not only improve our physical health, they have been proven to help our general wellbeing and mental health too. Pets lend us resilience in times of stress, make us feel happy, comforted and less lonely.
PDSA Vet, Olivia Anderson-Nathan, said: “Lots of studies support what pet owners have long suspected; that four-legged friends really do help us feel better, both mentally and physically. Their unconditional love and devotion provide us with life-long companionship and there is evidence that pets have a positive effect on our health and wellbeing.”
In addition to this, pets can provide companionship to children. Children can benefit from pets emotionally by seeking them out when they feel upset, or during stressful events, and may value their relationship with their pet as highly as other important relationships.
Olivia added: “Our pets are members of our families. Caring for a pet can provide a focus in life, which can be particularly important for vulnerable people. In our Pet Hospitals, we see the amazing bond between people and their pets every day and hear individual stories about ow pets have helped their owners through some hard times.”
The PDSA stress that it’s important to remember that owning a pet is a two-way responsibility – in return for their love and support, we need to provide everything our pets require to live happy and healthy lives.
Getting the right pet for your lifestyle is important to reduce stress for both pet and owner. Taking on a new pet can be a big responsibility, so PDSA always advises people to do plenty of research before making a decision.
To check if a pet might be right for your family, and if so, what type would be best, PDSA have an online quiz at www.pdsa.org.uk/petwisequiz, or you can speak to your local veterinary practice for advice.