Pet owners will know that our beloved companions can brighten up our day just by looking at us, but did you know that there are also many (mental and physical) health benefits of owning a pet?

 

Physical Health

Dogs require frequent daily exercise and what better way to motivate you to get moving than looking at their puppy-dog eyes and waggy tails? Most people will want to cuddle up in front of the TV when it’s wet and cold outside but the weather doesn’t put dogs off – come rain or shine, they will want you to venture outside with them. It’s not just dog walking either – playing chase or fetch is also a form of exercise for both humans and their canine companions, and it’s a good way for them to bond with each other.

It’s not just dogs who encourage their owners to exercise – playing with cats and riding horses gives you an incentive to stay in shape too.  One of the five welfare needs of any animal is a clean and safe home environment – cleaning up after animals is another form of exercise for you.

 

Mental Health

Almost 90% of pet owners in 2021 agreed that owning a pet helped to improve their mental health. Pets give their owners something positive to focus their mind on, and help to comfort them when they are feeling lonely or vulnerable. The responsibility of caring for a pet gives people a ‘purpose’ and allows them to set small daily goals to motivate themselves. They can reduce stress, anxiety and depression, ease loneliness and encourage exercise.

Pets are also a great way of helping us to meet new people and make new friends. It is likely that you will see a fellow dog walker whilst out walking your dog, or perhaps you will choose to join a dog walking group or attend training classes. Either way, you will meet like-minded people who already have a common interest to get the conversation flowing.

 

Health

Even just stroking an animal is said to lift our mood due to the endorphins that it releases – these are the same chemicals which are used to help reduce blood pressure. Some adopted animals go on to become therapy pets, providing therapy to those with learning difficulties or those in care homes and hospices. Assistance dogs (like guide dogs who are trained to lead visually impaired people around obstacles) enable individuals to continue living a life that is not restricted by their disabilities. Dogs in particular are very clever animals that can be trained to help us in everyday life.

 

Children

Pets are a lifelong commitment and huge responsibility. However, it’s not just adults who can learn from them. Pets can be a great way to teach children a sense of responsibility and will learn them to consider people other than themselves. Helping out with pets will keep them away from screens and is a good way of keeping them active – especially if they are rewarded with lots of cuddles from happy and healthy pets. Children will see how their actions have positive impacts on others, a quality which they can take into adulthood.

Memories of a childhood pet are likely to last a lifetime and will give children something to discuss with teachers and friends. Even when they have had a bad day at school, they will know that their faithful friend is waiting to greet them with a waggy tail when they get back home.

 

Adventures

Owning a pet is likely to take you to places you wouldn’t have otherwise visited, whether that be walking in the countryside with your dog, exploring the neighbourhood with your cat, or traveling alongside your horse to competitions. All of these are beneficial for mental wellbeing, as well as giving you the opportunity to bask in the fresh air and enjoy the great outdoors.

 

If you would like to become a part of the estimated 17 million households (according to 2021 figures) which own a pet, please feel free to visit our adoption pages to see if you can find your perfect match. At the RSPCA Doncaster and Rotherham Branch, we specialise in rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming a range of animals including – but not limited to – dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs and birds.