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5 ways pets help your mental health

Published on 22 Jul 2021

Lockdowns can be super challenging when you’re not sure how long it can go on for, or how many there will be. The uncertainty is quite taxing on a lot of people’s well-being and you may be feeling a plethora of emotions. But, the bright(ish) side? How much time you get to spend hanging out with your furry mate. 

Whilst your pet might not know what the heck is going on and why you’re always around, you can guarantee that this will be making their whole life!

So you can expect, cat butts on your Zoom screen, a furry sleeping body next to you at all times and constant walks.

And it’s not just your pet that benefits, as a large survey of 5,926 people (5,323 pet owners, and 603 non-owners) carried out in the UK by co-authors Dr Elena Ratschen and Dr Emily Shoesmit found. They investigated human-animal relationships during the UK’s first lockdown and found 90% of pet owners reported their pet had helped them to cope better emotionally during lockdown. 

There’s been a lot of scientific research which supports the benefits pets have on human’s physical and mental wellbeing. Here are some of the ways they help us during lockdown (and beyond!):

1. They de-stress you

These fuzzy lil’ beasts are great stress relievers and reduce the stress hormone - cortisol and also increases levels of the feel-good hormone oxytocin! No wonder we love having them around. This also has a very positive physical effect on the body, by lowering blood pressure, heart rates and muscle tension. 

2. Give you a bigger purpose 

Sometimes, in the monotony of lockdown, it can become very easy to slip into apathy and boredom. But when you have a furry mate who needs looking after? It gives you a sense of responsibility for something beyond yourself, which gives us meaning. 

3. They keep you social

During a time where we’re not seeing a whole lot of other humans, our dogs and cats become some of the social interaction we need. Additionally, they can help spark conversation (at a socially distanced level) with people, when out and about on walks!

4. One word - walkies!

Speaking of...dogs are a great excuse to get us out of the house because they need it. And getting out of the house can often mean getting out of your head. According to a study done by the Black Dog Institute, even just one hour a week of exercise can protect against mental health issues such as depression. So, if you’re going out once or twice with your pooch every day, imagine how good that will be for the both of you.

5. They make you laugh

Whether it’s doing zoomies or sitting in boxes proudly, our pets can do some weird and whacky things which can be funnier than watching pet videos on YouTube. Play is so important for pets, and laughter is great for stress, as it decreases the stress hormones and increases infection-fighting antibodies disease and also releases endorphins. That’s why they say laughter is the best medicine, but we think it might be pets!

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Chow Chow brown dog close up portrait.

JK Growling

JK Growling likes the finger things in life (except wizards, don’t get her started). She only eats the bougie treats, loves showing off her tricks to the humans to get her bougie treats. 

She has one human: Delores, who she has wrapped around her little paw.