Feeling good around Fido

It’s World Animal Day on 4 October, an annual celebration of animals around the globe, from endangered and rare species to our own furry companions. Reptiles, fish, cats and rabbits are all among the nation’s most loved pets, but our firm favourite remains the dog, with an average of 22 per cent of UK families sharing their home with a dog. But the benefits of having any pet are endless – here are five reasons why having a pet is good for you and your family’s health and well-being.

4516277991 Stress and depression

Having a pet can improve your mood and help reduce stress or depression according to the Director of the Depression Research Clinic at UCLA. The companionship a pet brings can make a big difference during stressful times – and a study by Mindlab found 44 per cent of pet owners felt less worried and stressed after spending time with their pets. Having a pet can also add a sense of purpose to those suffering episodes of depression – something of great importance when times are hard.

2 Child development

Having a family pet can help children learn to express themselves emotionally and, according to the RSPCA, children and teens with pets have higher levels of self-esteem. Pets are also a massive help to children who suffer from autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) – they encourage children to focus on responsibilities such as feeding their pet etc.

3 Physical health

If you have a dog, it’s going to need walking so, the chances are you’ll be meeting the recommended 30 minutes of exercise a day, resulting in lower risks of cardiovascular disease and high cholesterol. The companionship of a pet also reduces stress, having a knock-on effect on your blood pressure and ultimately minimising the risk of heart attacks later in life.

4 Stronger immune systems

Having an animal in the house may reduce a child’s risk of developing allergies and asthma, and researchers at Warwick University found that children with cats and dogs had less days off sick during school terms. Household pets mean there are more bacteria around the home that actually helps build a strong immune system, meaning less trips to the doctors for your little ones!

5 Improved social life

Having a pet is great for forming and maintaining relationships you may not have started otherwise. Daily walks in the park and visits to the groomers and vets help you to meet people and improve your social life and interpersonal skills, both of which are important factors for mental health.

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