It’s National Love Your Pet Day – and there are some very good reasons why you might, too.
After some weeks of worry about one of my cats – she went missing for a few days and came back with a fractured foot and a bad infection – I’m only too aware how attached I am to the animals in my life.
Since I started to work from home I’ve also come to appreciate my furry-faced work colleagues for their unspoken support.
The cats can often be found cheering me on from the in tray or reclining on the keyboard enticing me to relax and give them some strokes, while the dogs encourage me to take a break from the computer and get outside for a breather.
And it’s not just home workers who benefit from having animals around
Research carried out a couple of years ago in the US showed that having dogs in the workplace reduced employee stress and there are an increasing number of companies in the UK who welcome pets of all varieties in to their offices.
The power of pets to help our overall wellbeing is also widely documented. Having dogs and cats around lowers our blood pressure and raises the levels of serotonin and dopamine in our brains, making us more relaxed.
Pet owners generally have lower risk of heart disease and owning an animal reduces the effects of depression and other mental health issues such as post- traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), partly due to the caring responsibilities that are involved.
And if you’re a dog owner you’ll know how often people will stop and talk to you and your dog, which helps build social connections.
Owning a pet can make a huge difference to our health as we grow older, too
A pet in the home keeps us active, helps maintain social networks and gives us a sense of caring for another living thing that also cares for us, reducing a sense of loneliness.
Research at the University of California concluded that Alzheimer’s patients suffer less stress and have fewer anxious outbursts if there is a dog or cat in the home.
I’m so glad we adopted our two dogs and two more cats while we lived in Italy. They now travel with us between Britain and France – it’s not always easy to manage the logistics and pet passport requirements but they are such a joy that I can’t imagine an alternative!