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Mental health, pets and people

HELP & ADVICE
It has been shown in scientific studies that pets can improve our mental health. 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 for our mental wellbeing:

Vital companionship for those who live alone or spend time working from home
A reason to get out of the house, exercise daily and keep to a routine
Encouraging us to be sociable and chat to others on walks
Calming and relaxing to stroke or groom. This releases oxytocin – a hormone that brings us closer together with the people around us and can make us feel more confident
Build confidence in new situations and give us something to talk about
Responsibility for another being’s life, health and happiness
An ongoing project to focus on – training and teaching tricks
Encourage regular breaks from screens
In the case of dogs, just looking into their eyes releases oxytocin – the hormone that brings about bonding between individuals. It can also help us feel more optimistic and lower 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 we can 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!