How pets can improve our mental health and wellbeing

A cat and a dog lying down together

In many ways, a pet can be a great source of comfort and can help us to live mentally healthier lives by relieving depression and anxiety, lowering stress levels and improving your overall wellbeing. Here’s how caring for a dog, cat or any other animal can help relieve depression and anxiety, lower stress levels and improve your overall wellbeing.

The benefits of pets:

  • Increases your activity: Walking, hiking, or running with your dog is a pleasant and gratifying way to get regular exercise. Dog owners are significantly more likely to achieve their daily exercise needs, according to studies.
  • Provides companionship: Caring for an animal may help you feel loved and needed while diverting your attention away from your issues, especially if you live alone.
  • Helps you meet new people: Owning a pet is a great way for owners to maintain new friendships with other pet owners. Particularly, dog owners frequently stop and talk to each other on walks and in dog parks!
  • Reduces anxiety: the companionship of an animal may provide comfort, help reduce anxiety, and improve self-confidence in those who are nervous about stepping out of their comfort zone. Pets may teach you to be more attentive and to appreciate the present moment rather of stressing about what happened yesterday or what could happen tomorrow.
  • Adds structure to your day: Many pets, particularly dogs, require a lot of feeding and exercise, maintaining a consistent schedule keeps an animal balanced and calm. Whatever your mood, one look from your pet will get you out of bed to feed, exercise, and care for them.

Pets can also be a great source of comfort particularly for those with a specific condition such as ADHD as managing pets responsibilities can help them in certain areas of their life. Those with autism can also benefits from having a pet as it gives them a sense of unconditional love that helps them with their social skills as well as build their confidence.

How do I know if I’m ready for a pet?

When you’re deciding on which type of pet you want, you must consider:

  • How active are you?
  • Do you have much free time?
  • Are you okay financially to look after a pet as well as yourself/family?

If you can’t afford a pet, live somewhere that does not allow pets or you’re not allowed one there are many ways you can go around it. For example, you can spend time with your friends and family pets whether that be walking them, petting them, and taking care of them.

Otherwise, you could get in touch with your local rescue centre and ask them about any volunteering opportunities. It’s worth a try!

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