The benefits of pets
Most pet owners are clear about the immediate joys that come with sharing their lives with companion animals dogs make us feel less alone. However, many of us remain unaware of the physical and mental health benefits that can also accompany the pleasure of snuggling up to a furry friend. It’s only recently that studies have begun to scientifically explore the benefits of the human-animal bond.
Pets have evolved to become acutely attuned to humans and our behavior and emotions. Dogs, for example, are able to understand many of the words we use, but they’re even better at interpreting our tone of voice, body language, and gestures. And like any good human friend, a loyal dog will look into your eyes to gauge your emotional state and try to understand what you’re thinking and feeling (and to work out when the next walk or treat might be coming, of course).
Any pet can improve your health
While it’s true that people with pets often experience greater health benefits than those without, a pet doesn’t necessarily have to be a dog or a cat. A rabbit could be ideal if you’re allergic to other animals or have limited space but still want a furry friend to snuggle with.
Birds can encourage social interaction and help keep your mind sharp if you’re an older adult. Snakes, lizards, and other reptiles can make for exotic companions. Even watching fish in an aquarium can help reduce muscle tension and lower your pulse rate.
Read More: Dogs help you stop stressing out
What does it all mean?
There are lots of possible reasons dogs can help to lessen feelings of loneliness. We know having a quick cuddle with a dog . Maybe daily dog cuddles can also boost owners’ mood in the long-term which could help to lower feelings of loneliness.
Dog owners may also meet new people through their dog as . In our study, dog owners also said they had met new people in their neighborhood because of their dog.
he participants and the data
One hundred and thirty-two Canadian pet (dog and cat owners) and non-pet owners (defined as individuals who did not own a dog or cat) who were at least 18 years of age and living alone completed a 15 minute on-line survey of “factors affecting the well-being of individuals living alone.” The sample consisted of 66 pet owners (40 dog owners and 26 cat owners) and 66 people who did not own a dog or a cat.
The participants completed measures of perceived social support (“I can talk about my problems with my friends”), emotional attachment to pets (“Quite often, my feelings toward people are affected by the way they react to my pet”), depression and loneliness.
While there is no question that these are incredibly difficult times to maintain personal relationships, there has never been a better time to bring a new pet into your household. Not only are there more pets than ever needing good homes, experts say that being around pets has many health benefits. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America has reported that pets and therapy animals can assist in alleviating anxiety, depression, and stress, as well as feelings of social isolation and loneliness dogs make us feel less alone.
Barking Mad is a dog sitting service that understands how dogs reduce loneliness. Many of their hosts sign up to provide the service as a way of having some companionship and meeting people, as Sheila explains in this . As part of ‘October’, Barking Mad get involved with coffee mornings, afternoon teas and dog walks in local communities to combat loneliness. Around the festive season, lonely people can feel even lonelier. This is a good time to get out into the community to visit neighbors who live alone. One of Barking Med’s schemes sees dog owners encouraged to ‘share’ their dogs at Christmas time by taking them along to visit lonely neighbors.