Someone stroking a cats chin

How can pets help to improve your mental health?

There are so many reasons why having the companionship of a pet can help to improve your mental health. Check out some of the main reasons below, keep reading until the end to find out some ideas for people who can’t have pets in their home!

1. Having a pet can help to reduce anxiety

Interacting with pets lowers our stress hormones. The interaction raises our levels of serotonin and dopamine – these are the hormones that calm and relax our nervous system!

2. Pets can help to boost self-confidence

Pets need you in order to survive, and in turn, will offer you unconditional love, are the best listeners and will never criticise you! Their companionship and security will give you someone to spend the day with if you feel isolated or misunderstood.

3. They can help you to add structure to your day

Caring for another living individual means your day must incorporate some sort of structure. Having to feed, exercise and care for your pet helps to create a daily routine, which can help you to feel more focused and grounded due to the organisation element. The structure and routine can help to give your day purpose and a sense of achievement.

4. They can help you to meet new people

Often you can meet people while out walking your dog, but there are lots of other opportunities for different pet owners to meet in pet shops, training classes or in pet groups on social media.

There are so many opportunities to make new friends, both animal and human!

5. Having a pet can increase your physical activity

Dog owners will often have the opportunity to take their dog out for a walk or run – this is a super fun way to add an interesting way of exercising to your daily routine!

Of course, there are opportunities for people with other pets to add exercise to their daily routine – get playing with your pets around the house or in your garden!

What if I can’t have a pet?

Of course not everyone has the option of having a pet, maybe due to limited space or because your landlord doesn’t allow them, however, you can still have the opportunity to have contact with animals!

  • Visit friends’ pets
  • Pet-sit for a friend while they’re on holiday
  • Volunteer at a local animal shelter
  • Join an animal related society through the Student Union! – The Guide Dogs Fundraising Society and the Equestrian Society often allow direct contact with dogs and with horses respectively, regardless of your level of animal knowlege! There are other animal societies available too, check them out via the Student Union website.

Let us know what pet you have!

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