The importance of pets for mental health
Whether a furry feline, a kind canine or something more exotic - humans often find solace in the companionship of animals. Especially in such a tedious time of stress and uncertainty, sometimes the friendly face of your pet can be all it takes to spur a smile or laugh within you. In veterinary circles, animal welfare is always the prominent motivator...but we often forget the amazing impact that animals themselves can have on improving our welfare by improving and sustaining our mental health.
Numerous studies over time have sung praises for the link between people suffering from depression and the companionship of a pet. Dogs especially have an incredible impact on encouraging exercise; whether a gander round the park or a cross-country hike - fresh air and exercise are as good for the owner as the four-legged companion. Similarly, any pet owner can vouch for the calming effect a simple stroke can have, or the sense of purpose and achievement that owning a pet provides the owner.
Pet circles & the social side
Often, as you may have already noticed, dog owners seem to inevitably gravitate towards other dog owners through a sense of community and belonging. Simple conversations with new people can work wonders for those suffering from mental health problems. Perhaps you will find yourself in a dog-walking group, or perhaps you may get asked to care for the neighbour's cats while they're away. It can sometimes be the little interactions that blossom into healthy friendships.
Pets, ADHD & autism
A child with ADHD has the potential to be a dog's best friend. Pets require lots of exercise and children with ADHD can benefit from blowing off steam and excess energy, helping them to be more relaxed later in the day - meaning a happy child, a happy pet, and happy parents.
Interestingly, animal companions have also been linked to working with children with autism, who often struggle with sensory recognition. Pets can therefore be used to establish how something feels or sounds to work towards better sensory integration.
The list goes on. Animals are intrinsically linked to the human capacity to care and to be cared for. Whether its a sense of purpose or routine, or whether it's the loyal companionship on offer - pets can work miracles for those suffering from mental health issues.