We know dogs are man’s and woman’s best friend and the bond we share with our pets is unbreakable.
This year, with the stresses and uncertainty of the Coronavirus pandemic, animals have stepped up to the plate to support their humans.
Pet blogger Rachel Spencer shares five ways furry family members help your physical and emotional wellbeing.
Plus five steps you can follow to make sure your pet lives their life to the full.
1. They give you unconditional love
No matter how stressed out or grumpy you are, your pet only has love to give.
During lockdown, when you may naturally have been feeling anxious about all that has been happening in the world, your pet will have been a source of comfort.
A study by Direct Line Insurance found nine out of ten owners said having a pet had helped their emotional wellbeing in lockdown.
2. They make us get outdoors
Remember when you could only go out for one walk a day?
If you had your dog with you, chances are you will have walked further and enjoyed your time in the fresh air more.
Dogs also make excellent waggy tailed workout buddies with a survey from Ruffwear dog accessories revealing seven out of ten owners exercise with their dog.
Walkies isn’t just for dogs, you can get leads and harnesses for cats too.
It’s no wonder pet ownership spiked in lockdown with a 205 per cent rise for cats and 192 per cent for dogs according to Bought By Many.
3. Pets provide comfort and company
For people living alone, particularly elderly pet parents or those who might have been shielding, pets have been a lifeline.
A study into loneliness in the over 55s by The Mayhew Rescue and Lilys Kitchen pet food found on average they spend 19 hours a week alone.
A further 14 per cent spend over 50 hours without any company but pets provide the perfect antidote.
When asked what they looked for in a companion, 61 per cent said loyalty, seven out of ten said to be trustworthy and 43 per cent voted for company and a sense of comfort, all characteristics of dogs and cats too.
4. They instinctively know when we need cheering up
Dogs are known for goofing around but did you know that cats have become more cuddly since lockdown?
Usually cool and aloof, they’ve been wandering less and snuggling more.
But when Direct Line quizzed over 1,000 pet owners this summer, 51 per cent said feline friend had become more affectionate.
5. Having them in our lives means we laugh more
You might love watching crazy canines or kitties on YouTube and research shows pet parents chuckle more than those without.
A study by Robin Maria Valeri from the University in New York State asked people to keep a ‘laughter log’ each day.
They noted how often they laughed, what made them laugh, how hard they laughed and who was present.
Dog owners, and people who owned a dog and a cat, chortled the most.
So, given the joy your pet brings, how can you pay them back?
Here are five tips to ensure your pet remains healthy and happy.
1. Keep up to date with essential treatments
We’ve been so obsessed with keeping ourselves germ free and it’s essential to keep nasties away from pets too.
But worryingly, a study by Bristol University of UK vet practices revealed one in four cats and one in seven dogs were found to have fleas.
Fleas, ticks and worms can lead to dangerous diseases and make life very unpleasant for your pet and you and your family too but treating is easy.
At ScreenMyPet, you’ll find easy to use Flea and Worm treatments to protect them AND 10p from each sale goes to PDSA helping animals in need.
2. Provide them with a safe space
Let’s face it, we all need a bit of timeout and so do our pets.
Ensure your dog or cat has their own peaceful haven where they can go for some quiet time.
This might be a cosy crate or a cat den to relax in. Kit it out with comfy blankets and their favourite toys to create a tranquil retreat.
3. Consider how they might feel about the ‘new normal’
You might have noticed your dog looking miffed when they couldn’t sniff other pups in the park or play.
It’s been an unsettling time for them, so consider their emotions and try to help them to adapt to the ‘new normal.’
You might help get them used to people wearing masks or encourage them to have fun with you on walks rather than other dogs, but be mindful change is confusing for them too.
4. Try to tune in to how they’re feeling
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if your pet could talk?
While our pets are very brave and often don’t show us when they’re in pain, you can try to use your intuition.
Check them over for anything unusual during grooming sessions or while they’re curled up next to you.
Be mindful of any changes in their habits or routines and if you’re concerned, contact your vet.
5. Treasure each moment
Being around your pet makes you happy.
Each time you gaze into those soulful eyes, your level of oxytocin, known as the love hormone, goes up, and so does theirs.
A study by the department of animal science at Azabu University in Sagamihara, Japan looked at the levels of oxytocin produced by pet owners.
“These results suggest that humans may feel affection for their companion dogs similar to that felt toward human family members,” said Dr Miho Nagasawa.
So cherish every moment you share. Make memories and remember you can never have too many photos of your pet.
About the author
Rachel Spencer is a freelance journalist and specialises in writing about the pet industry and people doing extraordinary things to help animals.
She is the founder of award winning The Paw Post pet blog (https://www.thepawpost.co.uk/) and lives in Newcastle Upon Tyne with her rescue Patterdale Terrier Patch.