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07th Mar 2024

Is having a pet good for your mental health? What the experts say

Kat O'Connor

Pets are pretty spectacular and it turns out they can help your wellbeing

Having a pet is something we’re all so grateful for. They never fail to make the tougher days that little bit brighter and keep us company when we’re feeling low.

Whether you’ve had your pet for one week or 10 years, they instantly become a member of your family.

We know they make us happy, but can they actually boost our mental wellbeing?

According to the experts at the Mental Health Foundation, animals do have the power to reduce low mood, as well as anxiety.

They explained: “Pets can give you a sense of security and someone to share the day with. Caring for them can help you feel wanted and needed. This can be especially valuable for older people or those who live alone.”

“The companionship of a pet can help to ease your anxiety. It also has the power to boost self-confidence.

“Pets can be great listeners, offer unconditional love, and won’t criticise you. This can help your self-confidence, especially if you feel isolated or misunderstood.”

The DSPCA also echoed these words when we spoke to them this month.

Gillian Bird of the DSPCA told “If you adopt a rescue animal then it can have a psychological impact on you. We all know animals can have huge benefits.

Gillian stressed that adopting a pet is a major commitment and something you shouldn’t jump into without thinking about it.

She advised fostering at first rather than adopting, “If you foster an animal then you know you’re not going to be able to take it and keep yourself.

“It’ll give you a really good opportunity to see how this animal fits into your lifestyle. You’ll only realise when you actually physically have an animal what it’s really like to have one in your family.”

Adopting an animal is a huge lifestyle change but you need to remember that there will be bumps in the road.

“I think somebody who goes to a rescue centre is prepared mentally to take on an animal but they also know deep down is going to be a bit of work.”

They may require work, effort, and patience but adopting an animal is one of the best things you can do if you’re willing.