Today marks the start of Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK.
Founded 21 years ago, the awareness week is an annual event that highlights the importance of maintaining a healthy mindset. Taking place from 9 – 15 May, this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week focuses on loneliness.
Within the UK, levels of loneliness have gradually increased since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic. In April 2020, 5% of adults (around 2.6 million people) said they felt lonely “often” or “always”. In February 2021, this figure had risen to 7.2% of people (around 3.7 million adults).
Loneliness has been shown to have a huge impact on both physical and mental health. In fact, researchers believe that the effect of loneliness on mortality is comparable to the impact of well-known risk factors such as obesity and cigarette smoking.
Pets Benefit Your Metal Health
One way that’s been shown to reduce the feeling of loneliness is by owning a pet. Dogs especially have been linked to improved wellbeing and a reduction in stress and anxiety levels in humans. A recent YouGov survey of nearly 5,000 UK pet owners found that 90% of dog owners felt mentally healthier thanks to their pet.
Figures were only slightly lower for cat and rabbit owners, at 85% and 81% respectively, showing the positive impact pets can have on our mental health.
Here are 4 ways pets can benefit your mental health: –
1.They can help to reduce loneliness and provide companionship
More UK households own a dog than any other kind of pet. Not only do dogs provide companionship and comfort, they also encourage owners to explore their local area on walks and get to know people in their neighbourhood, thereby reducing social isolation.
Rachel Rodgers, Clinical Animal Behaviourist and owner of Nose To Trail, states: “Owning a dog can help keep people social – whilst owners may not feel able to get up and leave the house for themselves, they do it for their pet as they know that their dog needs exercise.”
Being socially connected is good for mental wellbeing and helps protect against mental ill health.
2. They’re great listeners and can boost self-confidence
Pets can be great listeners too – they don’t criticise, offer unconditional love and often instinctively know when their owner is feeling down or upset. This can help to boost self-confidence, as it allows owners to feel understood and cared for.
Research conducted by the University of Melbourne found that around 50% of adults and 70% adolescents who own a pet regularly confide in them. So, when you have a pet, you’ll always have someone to talk to.
3. They help us in later life
Pets make great companions, particularly for the elderly. Pets such as cats and dogs have been shown to have a revitalising effect on owners. Between encouraging exercise and preventing loneliness, pets can help bring better mental and physical health to their senior owners.
Pets have also been shown to help dementia and Alzheimer’s patients with their mental health. Due to this, more and more care homes are enlisting the help of animals to create a calmer, more homely environment for their residents.
4. They can lower stress levels
Several studies have shown that petting and playing with animals reduces levels of stress-related hormones such as cortisol, therefore, pets are very helpful for anxiety sufferers.
Clinical Animal Behaviourist Rachel Rodgers, said: “Simply stroking a pet has been shown to help lower stress levels in humans. Playing with a pet causes an increase of serotonin and dopamine, which are also known as “happiness hormones”. These hormones calm and relax the nervous system, helping to combat both stress and anxiety.”
Caring for Pets
As pets as so important to so many people, and play such a huge role in their owners’ mental health, it’s imperative they’re cared for properly.
Veterinarians play a huge role in caring for animals when they’re sick, and work hard to address the health and welfare needs of all pets, however, within a veterinary practice, it can be easy to overlook one of the most vital yet unassuming necessities: adequate medical refrigeration.
Many veterinary medicines and drugs, such as liquid antibiotics, need safe and secure storage in a specialist medical fridge. Our medical fridges provide strict temperature control, ensuring the temperature range within them is maintained between +2oC and +8oC, monitored constantly, and an alarm sounds if the temperature falls out of range.
Standard domestic fridges do not offer these benefits and are not accurate enough to store veterinary medical products (VMPs) at such precise temperatures.
Our veterinary fridges are available in a range of different sizes – small, medium and large – with the option to choose a glass door or a solid door. We have a veterinary fridge suitable for all practices, ensuring VMPs are stored securely to help protect pet health.
If you’d like to speak to us about our range of veterinary fridges, or how we’re taking part in Mental Health Awareness Week, please call 0161 772 5666, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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