Pets can relieve stress and anxiety and do so much more.

Dogs, cats and small mammals such as rabbits and guinea pigs, have been proven to destress you simply by the act of stroking and petting them.

This raises the levels of serotonin and dopamine, hormones that help calm and relax the nervous system.

Pets are great listeners and a study of 600 showed that 50% of adults regularly confided in them.

Pets help reduce the effect of depression and loneliness. 74% of pet owners say it improved their mental health. Studies show that with the interaction there is an increase of oxytocin in the brain resulting in a sense of calm, comfort and focus.

Dogs also help with cardiovascular health as well as the social side when walking them.

I had 2 basset hounds which were 12 and 14. The younger one we had as a 3month old pup and the other was 6 months old and rescued from Battersea dog’s home. Both with great temperaments and were great with the kids as they grew up. During my time when suffering from depression and anxiety, they just made me feel better and gave me a reason to get up, putting structure into my day as well as forcing me to exercise. The older one recently passed away but I now have a 3 month old English Springer Spaniel, the life and soul of the household, into everything and demanding plenty of walks which has helped me get over our loss and kept my spirits up. They take over your life.

I also keep fish. A tropical tank, a child tank and a marine tank. Which whilst they are not cuddly, they require up keep which is my “me” time, doing something for myself, an important part of maintaining my own wellbeing. The best part is sitting back and just watching them swimming and interacting with each other. Whilst some might say that’s sad, I find it restful and allows me time to switch off from the day to day grind plus giving me a rest from the electronic devices we all use these days.

Pets are family.

Contributed by Ian

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