Pets and mental health
You can read more about it here:
- Can a pet improve my mental health?
- Do I need a pet?
- What can I do if I don’t want a pet?
A pet is an excellent source of motivation and comfort. Pets can be a great way to improve our mental health.
What can my pet do to improve my mental health and well-being?
Care for our pets can improve our mental health.
- You are increasing your level of physical activity. Most dog owners will take their dogs for a daily walk or run. It’s a great way to incorporate exercise into your daily routine.
- You are providing companionship. Pets give you security and someone with whom to spend the day. You can feel needed and wanted by caring for your pet. This is especially important for older adults and those living alone.
- It reduces anxiety. Companionship with a pet is a great way to reduce stress.
- Self-confidence boost. This can boost your self-confidence, especially if you feel isolated or misunderstood. It can boost your confidence, especially if it makes you feel alone or misunderstood.
- Helping you meet new people On walks, dog owners will often chat and exchange information. Other pets are also a great way to meet new people: pet shops, online groups, or training classes, for instance.
- You are adding structure to your daily routine. You can feel more grounded by feeding, exercising, and caring for your pet. This can help you feel more grounded and focused.
Pets can also be helpful for specific conditions. People with ADHD, for example, may benefit from the routine and structure that pets require. They may benefit from managing their pet’s duties and staying on top of the time. For example, they can keep track of when to walk or feed them. Children with ADHD can be hyperactive, and walking or playing with pets is an excellent way to release that excess energy.
Autistic individuals may benefit from owning a pet. They can provide a relationship of unconditional love that helps build confidence and social skills. Pets can bring a sense of calmness and reassurance to their owners when they feel overwhelmed. Autism children can use their pets to learn sensory integration exercises to get used to how something feels on their skin, smells, or sounds.
What is the right pet for me?
A pet is not something you should do lightly. You will need the time, energy, and money to care for a pet. Your home should be calm and consistent, with a routine. You can decide whether to own a pet by fostering one or helping someone else with theirs.
Consider these things when you are ready to consider getting a new pet:
- How much outdoor space have you got?
- How active are you?
- How much time can you spend with your pet?
- How much money can you spend on vet bills, insurance, toys, food, and other expenses? Some charities provide low-cost vet treatment but are restricted to certain areas or have financial criteria.
The animal charity PDSA offers some critical things to consider before getting a pet.
What if I am not allowed to have a pet at all?
There are alternatives if you cannot afford a dog or cat, don’t live where pets are allowed, or worry about being too sick to care for a pet.
Spending time with your friends’ pets is the easiest option. You can walk their dogs, stroke their cats, or even cuddle their guinea pigs. Pet sitting is a great way to help them out on vacation. Consider becoming a house-sitter. You will take care of someone’s garden, home, and pets in exchange for accessible accommodations.
You can sign up for BorrowMyDoggy if you are missing having a pet in your life. They match dog owners with locals who love to play or walk a dog. The Cinnamon Trust is also looking for volunteer dog walkers who can help older people or those with a disability or health condition that makes it difficult to walk their dog. Also, they need foster parents to care for pets while their owners are in the hospital.
You can contact a local rescue center to find out what volunteer opportunities are available. Volunteers may be needed to socialize, exercise and care for their pets. You might consider fostering if you can have a pet for a short time but cannot commit long term. Some animals are shy and need a quiet home to wait for adoption.
Cats Protection and Dogs Trust need people who can provide temporary foster care to pets that belong to people fleeing violence at home. They may be unable to take their pets to a shelter.