From the second we bring them home our pets instantly become part of the family.
From the playful pony, to the loyal dog, to the cheeky cat, to the hungry hamster.....all pets hold a special place in their owners hearts.
But what a lot of owners don't know is that their furry friends come with some powerful health benefits.
A well known fact is that stroking and cuddling your dog or cat can quite quickly help you to feel calmer and less stressed. Within as little as 10 minutes of interaction with your pet studies show huge reductions in the stress hormone, cortisol. At the same time there is evidence proving it also boosts levels in serotonin, prolactin and oxytocin giving an instant 'feel-good' mood.
A pet can also help you adopt healthy lifestyle routines which help to ease symptoms of stress, depression and anxiety. Such as:
Increasing exercise - Dog and horse owners are far more likely to hit their daily step target whilst taking the dog for a walk or whilst mucking out at the stables.
Structure - Owning a pet gives you a sense of responsibility and they require daily feeding, walking, exercises, cleaning etc. No matter what your mood - one bark, meow or longing look from your pet forces you out of bed to feed, exercise and care for them.
Companionship - Pets are a great combat to loneliness. Most pet owners talk and chat to their furry friends helping them ease their troubles. Your pet always gives you a heart warming welcome at the door when you come in or when you get up in the morning creating a sense of purpose.
It is also a well known fact that babies who grow up in a house with a dog or cat for the first year of their life have reduced chances of developing asthma, pneumonia and broncholitis.
It doesn't stop as a child...There is growing concern that in our haste to sanitize our hands, our homes, our children that there is a risk that we are weakening the immune system.
Studies have shown that environments that are 'too clean' can actually reduce our immune system. So the great news is that pets bring a whole host of 'good' bacteria and microbes into your home adding diversity to your gut flora and therefore increasing your immunity.
So give your pet an extra cuddle, walk, treat today and maybe go a little easier on them when they leave muddy paw prints on the carpet!