“A dog makes a home” is a phrase that I have heard people say often, as is the question “Are you a dog person or a cat person?”

Likewise, I have heard a lot of different responses and answers to this statement and the question, but what about pets in general?

Well, it’s probably safe to say that it is all down to personal preference and circumstances. Things like vets bills, time restrictions, work and family commitments and food costs need to be considered but the effects of owning a pet can be very beneficial.

Having a pet can motivate a person.  If you have a pet that solely relies on you for its care and well-being, it can really help you get focused and give you a reason to get up in the morning. This also links in with loneliness and isolation. If a person suddenly finds themselves through whatever reason alone, this can be very crippling for a person and it can definitely start to affect a person’s mental health and physical well-being. Walking a pet gets a person out in the fresh air and can boost their general health.  This is not only beneficial to their physical and mental health but it also gives them an outlet for social contact. There are lots of dog walking groups available and more and more cafes, guest houses and pubs are becoming dog friendly.

Scientifically it has been proven that stroking a pet can help with relaxation and reducing blood pressure. It lifts your mood as an actual hormone is produced linked to anxiety relief. Also, this has a major impact on the pet itself and it strengthens the bonds between itself and its owners.

Mixing animals and dementia sufferers is a great source of therapy and can invoke happy memories with very powerful feelings for patients. Children who have family pets growing up learn to respect and treat an animal loving way as they are certainly seen as part of the family.  One hard part of this is when we lose a pet.  This can be especially hard for a child to cope with, certainly if they have never experienced this before. It is an opportunity to speak about bereavement being part of the life cycle.

There have been definite benefits recorded for autistic children when interacting with pets. Research shows that children with Autism are more social when playing with animals opposed to playing with toys. There seems to be fewer meltdowns when in the presence of a pet and parents stress levels are significantly lowered. Dogs especially can make a difference to the childrens’ confidence, helps reduce anxiety and improve communication.  Also, it enables families to do more together.

Dogs can help a range of things like teach road safety, play games, can be a child’s new best friend, relieve family stress and help with overcoming fears.

So, what do you think?

Is a dog really a man’s best friend? With unconditional love and affection shown to you, I really do think so ????

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