We’re big animals lovers here in the UK – in fact, it’s estimated that up to 13 million households keep a pet, whether that’s a cat, dog or a tank full of fish. Dogs have proven to be the most popular choice among UK pet owners, with cat’s a close second, while we’re also apparently big fans of rabbits, hamsters and even lizards. Why are we all so keen to keep our four-legged friends close? Well, it turns out that pet ownership actually provides a range of health benefits for the body and the mind.
Below, we take a look at 3 reasons why keeping a pet in the home can be good for body and soul:
1. Increased Allergy Resistance
It might seem counter-intuitive, but keeping fluffy companions in the house can actually help your body’s ability to fight allergies. Studies have shown that kids who grow up in households with a furred animal (such as a dog or cat) are actually at less risk of developing debilitating allergies and respiratory conditions like asthma. Dogs and cats are also relatively dirty animals and will bring germs into the house, which can be great for building and strengthening the immune system in children.
2. Improved Physical Health
When it comes to dogs, regular exercise is a mutual benefit of pet ownership. In a society that makes little time for exercise and physical activity, taking the dog for a walk provides a regular opportunity to get the blood pumping. In fact, male dog owners often show fewer signs of heart disease, lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol levels than those who don’t own a pet. And, of course, improved physical health often leads to…
3. Improved Mental Health
When you’re feeling down, the unconditional affection of a pet can really do wonders. Taking them for a walk is not only good exercise, but the sunshine and fresh air can boost your mood and calm your anxieties. In the past, studies have suggested that the simple act of petting your dog or cat is incredibly comforting and can help to reduce blood pressure and cortisol levels, the hormone responsible for stress. Not only that, experiments conducted on Alzheimer’s sufferers suggested that negative episodes are reduced when an animal is kept in the home. A pet can also take some of the burden from the shoulders of caregivers by providing valuable companionship to the patient. For the older generation, the loyalty of a pet can help somebody through feelings of loneliness and give a bit of structure to everyday life. They’re great for socialising and staying connected with people too – the Kennel Club, for example, run a range of events designed to get pet owners out of the house.
Loyalty, companionship, and love. It’s not hard to see why so many people love keep an animal in the home. Interested in adopting a pet? The RSPCA website offers detailed advice on pet rehoming and adoption, as well as information on local RSPCA centres.