Pets enrich our lives on so many levels. Here’s just a glimpse of how they help humans’ health.

How pets boost your mental and physical health

With our current separation from friends and family, we as pet parents are relying on the comfort of our pets more than ever. Whether it’s the wag of a tail or the brush past your ankles, pets are capable of bringing us so much joy. Their companionship alone is a serious boost to mental health and our more active pets, like dogs, can help our physical health, which in turn has a positive impact on well-being. Here’s a look at some of the key ways our pets boost our health.

1. Happy together

Those cat purrs as you pat them from head to tail is fantastic for stress relief. While you might think you’re mindlessly patting your pet, it’s said that the rhythm is soothing for both of you. Take breaks while you’re working from home to show your cat some love – you’ll both benefit from this calming ritual, almost like an exercise in mindfulness.

2. Part of a community

Pet parents are unfailingly passionate about their pets. Back before the age of social distancing, we all remember how easy it was to find yourself in a long conversation with a stranger, discussing your pet’s name, age, breed and their funny quirks. In fact, people who own dogs are far more likely to talk to strangers at the park. As a pet owner, not only are you part of a passionate community that is always ready for a chat but, when you step out with your dog, you’re likely to meet new people.

Connecting with others avoids the isolation that can be detrimental to mental health, making membership to the pet-owner club a big win. The best part is that you don’t have to go without these connections in this age of social distancing – head to Petbarn’s Facebook page where our community is always happy to see and hear stories about your beloved pets!

3. Walk it off

Of course, the benefits of exercise aren’t new to anyone. When you get active, you’re not only improving your physical fitness, but you’re boosting your mental health, too. The endorphins and serotonin released when you’re exercising boost your mood and reduce stress. Clipping on your dog’s lead and stepping out together on a daily basis ticks so many overall health boxes, and only strengthens the bond with your pet.

Don’t underestimate the power of getting active with your pet but just remember to stay safe by staying 1.5m away from other people when you’re out for a walk. While evidence shows that COVID-19 is spread through human-to-human contact and not from our pets to us or vice-versa, our Greencross Vets recommend that you avoid patting other people’s dogs during this time. We know it’ll be hard to resist but do it for everyone’s health!

4. The healing power of laughter

If you’ve had a bad day at work (even when you’re working from home!) or are feeling stressed about something, the welcoming presence of a pet is a sight for sore eyes. The rush of love upon seeing your pet’s ecstatic reaction is an immediate stress reliever and boost to happiness. Our pets’ capacity to make us laugh or smile can have a huge impact on happiness, which is why service dogs are often called upon to offer love to the bereaved or ill. Our pets’ ability to offer unconditional love is perhaps their most adored quality, and one that can boost humans’ mental health.

5. The science doesn’t lie

All of the previous examples highlight the stress-relieving quality of our pets. The best news is that there is a link between lower stress levels and a reduced risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. The friendship we have with our pets not only delivers on an emotional level, but has an overall benefit on our physical well-being.

Our pets are pretty incredible. You can’t dispute that they definitely make us better humans!