New research finds significant health benefits from pet ownership

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As many struggle to combat the post-Christmas come down and tackle the ‘January Blues’, new research has demonstrated the huge impact of pet ownership on our health.

As we approach ‘Blue Monday’, which is believed to be the most depressing day of the year, online pet healthcare site MedicAnimal’s chief veterinary officer, Andrew Bucher, flags that the health benefits of pet ownership are not only physical, but also extend to mental health.

MedicAnimal’s research shows humans have a strong emotional connection to their pets and that they have tangible benefits to our mental and psychological wellbeing.

The survey measured responses of more than 2,200 respondents, all of whom own one or more pets. Key findings include 98 per cent of dog owners and 96 per cent of cat owners agreeing that their pet was a member of the family.

Eight-four per cent of dog owners felt having a dog helps them have more positive relationships with other people, while 64 per cent of people feel more confident meeting new people if their dog is also present.

Almost three quarters (73 per cent) of people believe their dog is good for their mental health and 62 per cent of people strongly view their dog as a source of emotional support.

Seventy-eight per cent of people believe their cat intuitively understands how they are feeling and 86 per cent of people think owning a cat has made them a happier person.

While there are multiple benefits of pet ownership, such as companionship and reducing stress, it has been proven that having a pet makes us live longer and animals can be useful in predicting seizures, reducing blood pressure and cholesterol, and even monitoring their diabetic owners’ blood sugar levels.

Andrew Bucher said: “Britain has long been touted as a nation of animal lovers, which was confirmed last year when we spent a record £6 billion on our pets, but these findings demonstrate how important our pets are to our physical and mental wellbeing.

“It will come as no surprise to pet owners that our animals are good for us. However, the results of this survey really do highlight the extent to which humans depend on their pets to give them confidence in their relationships with other people and in maintaining strong mental health.

“January may be cold, dark, wet and depressing, and Blue Monday the most depressing day of the year, however, the love, partnership and affection we show our pets is very much a two way relationship. They bring us so many benefits and it’s important we remember to repay them by treating them well and caring for their needs just as though they were a member of the family.”

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