April is National Pet Month and one of the key aims of this UK wide pet celebration is to highlight the health benefits of owning a pet.
Ok, getting a pet won’t solve all of life’s problems, but unlike many other ‘magic’ fixes for staying happy and healthy there is a lot of evidence to show that owning a pet can be incredibly good for you, both mentally and physically.
Invest some time, money and love in your pets and the rewards may astonish you!
Fresh air and exercise!
How many times have you joined a gym and then never gone back? Well, a dog won’t let you get away with excuses like “I don’t feel like it today” – he needs walking whatever the weather so you’ll have an exercise programme that you won’t be able to back out of. Although this benefit is mainly for dog owners, owners of young and playful cats will also be given a workout depending on how demanding their moggie is!
Younger dogs and high energy breeds need an awful lot of exercise and will get you out of the house twice a day or more. If you intend to take up a more vigorous form of exercise like cross country running, Labradors or Weimaraners make perfect jogging pals! Choose a more laid back breed if you prefer gentle strolls.
Why not turn walking the dog into a family excursion to the beach or the local park? Having a dog to walk is a great excuse to get your kids outside and away from computer screens and video games for a few hours!
Pets are good for the heart in more ways than one. Evidence shows that time spent with pets can control blood pressure better than drugs. A survey in America of 48 stockbrokers taking a medication for hypertension revealed that owning a pet reduced by half the increase in blood pressure caused by stress. Pet owners also tend to have lower levels of cholesterol and blood triglyceride and are therefore at lower risk of suffering from heart disease and heart attacks.*
Always in a good mood
A pet is guaranteed to cheer you up when you’re feeling down. Who can resist the excitable greeting of a happy dog at the door or the calm purring of a lap cat as he buries his head under your chin? Small pets make great companions too but certain species, such as rats and rabbits, will also need friends of their own kind. The therapeutic effects of stroking and spending time with pets are well known and animals are used to help children and adults with problems such as learning difficulties or autism.
If you are greiving a loved one or living alone and feeling isolated, a pet can become your constant companion and give you a focus. Friends and family are important of course but the type of companionship a dog, cat or other pet can give you is also special. Pets don’t moan, they won’t let you down and they definitely won’t judge you. All they want in return is some cuddles, a bit of exercise and some grub!
* Read more on the Pet Health Council website >