Happiness in a Furball

With a woof woof here and a meow meow there, here’s a cluck, there’s a squeak, everywhere a hiss hiss… With furry fellas, feathery friends, and scaly sidekicks, the world seems to be overflowing with pet love, and there are many (great) reasons for it.  

As a pet owner myself, I can think of few things that bring me greater joy than spending time with my furry friends. They were my constant companions throughout lockdown, and their presence continues to comfort and inspire as I start to put myself out into the world again. 

I am certainly not alone in this. Around 70% of all households include a pet, and there is mounting scientific evidence that there are mental and even physical benefits to pet ownership.

Taking care of a pet is the purrfect way to boost mood, elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, and prevent the symptoms of mental illness that can make it feel as if one is trudging through a muddy swamp of emotions. 

Pets offer a sense of purpose and validation, as they rely on us to take care of them. Although not always in the most obvious ways (I’m looking at you, cats) - they are generally happy to see us. From giving them a well-deserved stroke - which can soothe us and decrease our cortisol and blood pressure levels - to enjoying their non-verbal cues of affection - it’s hard to argue the fact that time spent with our pets adds a dash of sunshine to daily life. 

Depending on your choice of loveable companion, owning a pet can even boost your physical health. Pets often encourage their owners to play - running around the garden playing a mock tug of war; scaling the fence to fetch an almost-lost-for-good ball; and - old faithful - enjoying a game of tag. In addition, some also need to be taken for walkies, which not only helps us to stay active, but also to get out into nature and meet some new animal lovers to share the joy!

Although each and every one of us believes that our little ones are the best, there is some evidence that certain pets may improve health in specific ways:

Dutiful doggos 

Dogs in particular are brilliant at interpreting tone of voice and body language, knowing when we need a comforting cuddle or a little encouraging yap. They can also make us feel safer and keep us active, so we can enjoy all those sought-after endorphins.

Cagey kitties

Cats are also said to be good at interpreting mood, but are slightly less likely to bend to our will and allow us to cuddle them freely. That said, hearing a little panther purr releases the bonding hormone oxytocin - the cuddle chemical - and simply having them around can reduce anxiety and lower the risk of stroke and heart attack. 

Furry ferrets, rabbits, gerbils and guinea pigs 

Extremely social and very low maintenance, these guys generate calm through their busyness. Great distractions from an overwhelming day, they can remind us to focus on the here and now. 

Boastful birds

Although birds provide slightly less tactile lovin’, they have been found to encourage social interaction, reduce social anxiety, and help us to keep our minds sharp with their whimsical songs.

Sweet snakes

Not always the first pet to come to mind when thinking of health benefits, these scaly friends seem to have a stabilising effect on their owners’ moods, as they spend their time moving about rhythmically and chilling out. 

Friendly fish

Simply watching fish swim can calm brain waves, lower pulse rate, and release muscle tension - inducing relaxation for better rest. 

Lovely lizards 

Usually independent and low maintenance, these little fellas are the perfect companions for those with attention issues - encouraging feelings of calm and stability whilst requiring a routine in place to care for them.

Did you know?

  • 90% of people view their pets as members of their family.
  • People who use pet therapy while recovering from surgery use fewer pain medications than those who don’t. 

Benefits of pet ownership for young children

Introducing pets to your children’s lives can be hugely beneficial for their development. 

Young children who spend time with animals: 

  • Are usually more active and have stronger immunity
  • Feel more secure and safe, displaying less anxiety
  • Have less risk of allergies, eczema and asthma
  • Learn compassion and empathy through emotional/non-verbal cues 
  • Practise building relationships 
  • Develop a better self-image (as pets act as built-in friends)
  • Form routines and responsibilities as they help to take care of a beloved pet
  • Learn how to navigate the strong emotions of love and loss

“Wellness Warehouse strives to help you live life well but because we are retailers and not medical practitioners we cannot offer medical advice. Please always consult your medical practitioner before taking any supplements, complementary medicines or have any health concerns and ensure that you always read labels, warnings and directions carefully, prior to consumption.”