Mental health, pets and people.
Pets can improve our mental well-being. An RSPCA poll by YouGov last year found that 45% of pet owners said their pets had helped their mental health during lockdown and studies have found a range of benefits that pets bring to our mental health and wellbeing:
– Vital companionship for those who live alone or are spending time working from home alone
– A reason to get out of the house, to exercise daily and keep to a routine
– They encourage us to be sociable and chat to others we meet on walks
– They are calming and relaxing to stroke or groom, which releases oxytocin, a hormone that brings us closer together with the people around us and can make us feel more confident
– They can build confidence in new situations and provide a great talking point
– They make us responsible for another’s life, health and wellbeing
– They give us an ongoing project to focus on – training and teaching them tricks
– Pets encourage regular breaks from screens, which can help our wellbeing
In the case of dogs, even when we just look into their eyes – our bodies release oxytocin, a hormone that brings about bonding between individuals as well as helping us feel more optimistic and lowering blood pressure
Our mental health affects our pets.
While pets provide a range of benefits and positive effects on our well-being, their mental health can be affected by whether we are feeling happy or sad, depressed or angry. Pets can sense how we’re feeling and can even mirror our stress.
As a nation of animal lovers, we want our pets to be happy and to live a good life. By learning to recognise and understand our pets’ body language we can take action when their mental health might need improving or protecting.
How can we protect the mental health of our pets?
Becoming familiar with the different signs that our pets use can really help us to know when they’re feeling sad, happy or anxious.
If our pets are feeling worried or anxious, there are lots of things we can do to help them feel happier, including setting aside regular time for play, exercise, rest and training. Just being with us can help our pets feel relaxed and happy!