It can sometimes be difficult to keep ourselves motivated and happy all the time, especially as we get older, or if we are struggling with our health, mental well-being or just having a bit of a tough time. And, over time, this can have a detrimental effect on our bodies and minds. We know that a simple walk will blow away the cobwebs and make us feel better both physically and mentally, but sometimes it can be hard work dragging ourselves out the front door. Studies have shown that interacting with an animal can greatly enhance a person’s wellbeing by lowering blood pressure and heart rates and even helping to lower stress hormone levels too. Dogs, especially the action of stroking a dog, has been proven to relieve stress and anxiety. Some residential care homes have even started inviting animals into their centres, as they have found it can greatly improve social connections between residents of the home, boosting moods, building confidence and also new friendships.
Manager Pauline Melville of Bowburn Care Centre in Durham said “We find that when the dogs visit us, it has a calming effect on the residents. It creates conversations, playfulness, and relaxation. It also encourages socialising, stimulates the recall of memories, and gets all the residents talking to each other, and to the staff, about their own pets and experiences with animals”. Pauline went on to say “Residents love to have the dogs sit on their knees, even when a resident is unwell, the dogs will jump on the beds and snuggle down with them. You can see the joy on their faces. One gentleman always has happy tears, every time the dogs are in”.
And owning a pet has many hidden health benefits too. As an owner, you understand that every single morning you have to get up, feed your pet and let them out. If you feel like you cannot get out of bed and face the day, tough, you best friend needs you. If you own a dog, you will also realise that you’ll have to get dressed and take your four-legged friend out for a walk too – ensuring both you and your pet get some essential exercise, fresh air and maybe even a bit of socialising with your neighbours maybe. Then when you’re ready to relax, your pet will provide the perfect tools to enable you to de-stress simply by cuddling and stroking them – and probably lots of kisses from your fur-baby too!
So, there you have it. Proof, that owning a pet is therapy in itself. Who knew your furry best friend was actually keeping you happy and healthy, as well as keeping you company!