Whether you already have a four-legged friend or you’re looking to bring one home, we’re sure you already know some of the benefits of having a furry companion. We’ve partnered with Dogs for Good to give you the top 10 benefits of owning a cat or dog.
Not only can they lift our moods and ease loneliness, owning a pet comes with great health benefits too, from keeping us fit and active, to improving our mental health. And not forgetting the incredible bond that can be formed between you and your pet - after all, they truly do become a cherished member of the family.
They make us feel safe and less alone
Having a pet in our homes or by our side when we’re out and about can make us feel less alone and more safe, especially in certain situations such as going out in the dark, walking in unknown places, or just to talk to and be there. Research shows that 80% of pet owners say that having a pet makes them feel less lonely.
It’s also a great way to chat to new people when you’re out on dog walks – you can compare training tips and share stories.
Check out Simon and Axel's inspiring story and their journey so far with Dogs for Good.
They're good for our heart
Having a dog will, of course, help to increase your energy levels and keep you active. Whether you’re already an outdoors type, or you like long walks or runs, having a dog by your side will not only keep you company, but will be great for your fitness levels and wellbeing also, possibly leading to a healthier heart.
Owning a dog has been associated with probable decreased cardiovascular risk, and an improved response to stress, according to research. You don’t even need to go out hiking for hours, it could just be playing in the garden or throwing a ball around in the park to reach your daily exercise goals, while also keeping your dog happy and healthy too.
They lower your stress levels and can help with anxiety
Pets can be brilliant for our mental health, especially when it comes to reducing stress and anxiety levels. After all, they are there for us through big life events, as well as simple day to day life.
This really shows when it comes to cats and dogs being present in certain settings such as care homes, hospitals and schools. Therapy animals can play a huge role in assisting with recovery, as well as simply keeping us company when we need them most.
Our in-house vet, Martin, says “I think all of us who own a pet can relate to the calming influence and happiness of a cuddle or playtime with a furry friend after a tough day”.
They help us keep fit
Exercising with your pet can help to improve your health, keeping you both active while increasing the bond between you. Puppy exercise can be combined with their training, and helps to burn off that seemingly never-ending energy.
Whether it’s walking, running, hiking, or even swimming, any form of activity is bound to help your health and fitness levels. Be sure to check out your local footpaths, beaches, and woodland for the best walks for you and your companion.
They're a great companion for older pets already at home
You might already have an older pet and are thinking about bringing a puppy or kitten home to accompany and befriend them. This can be great for socialising your new puppy, as it could really help to boost their confidence having a senior dog at their side to influence them. A puppy is likely to learn and imitate behaviours from other dogs, and this can be an advantage with training.
It may also benefit an older dog to have a puppy around that can keep them engaged and active.
It is worth noting that puppies can sometimes frustrate or annoy older dogs who already have routines, and it’s important to make sure their relationship doesn’t become at risk of being ruined if there are behavioural differences. Our in-house vet, Martin, says “A new pet entering the home, can really invigorate an older pet, giving them a new playmate and company when us humans are not at home. Speak to your vet about the best ways to integrate a new pet into a household”.
They help us cope with a crisis
As well as general day to day support with health, including our mental health, our pets can really help us to get through a crisis or personal trauma such as bereavement. We all have tricky times, but no matter what, our furry friends are always there to make us feel at ease. In fact research has shown that service dogs have helped people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
They can provide companionship for people with disabilities
Pets are great companions for people with learning and physical disabilities, especially dogs.
Whether it’s a community dog somewhere you visit, such as in schools or care homes, or having a family dog that’s trained to assist with specific needs.
Cats are also great furry friends to have around the house, to greet you when you get home or to cuddle up with on the sofa.
Joel and Caddie's story shows the true effect that an assistance dog can have.
They can teach children responsibility
Whether you have young children or teenagers, pets make wonderful friends and are often there to see the milestones as they grow up, such as starting school, birthdays, learning to walk, and starting first jobs. Our pets really help to equip children with essential life skills, from being more responsible, to having daily routines.
They can also, of course, help children with any anxieties or worries they may have as they progress through life. Lots of big events such as making new friends and going to new places can be daunting, and pets can put them at ease and help them to feel more confident by being at their side.
Children can also get involved in training the new pet, which can help kids to understand different behaviours, such as being rewarded for positive actions.
They can improve our mood and make us happierTo put it simply, our pets can really help to lift our mood. From the warm cuddles to the endless ball throwing and chasing games, our pets certainly keep us on our toes, but they also provide a relationship and bond like no other.
It’s quite clear that having a cat or dog has huge benefits, from wellbeing to our physical health, and not just for ourselves but the whole family.
Remember, preparing for a dog is a big task and one that should be considered and researched in-depth before you commit. You’ll need to consider the financial implications, as well as the time required to spend with them and train them, and more. It’s also worth looking into adopting a dog or cat rather than buying, and speaking with a number of rescue centres to find your perfect match.
Already have a pet, or looking to bring one home in the near future? Make sure they have adequate pet insurance to cover eventualities such as vets bills and emergency care.