• Research shows that owning a pet can reduce your stress
  • Actions such as going for walks and stroking your pet can be relaxing
  • Additional benefits include lower blood pressure, feelings of contentment and lowered chances of depression

Pets make for great companions. The bond we develop with them is similar to that of a brilliant friendship, and the love we feel towards them is the same as what you feel towards family members. That’s a lot of love to say the least.

By and large, the time we spend with our beloved pet tends to be positive. On the one hand we have good memories, the kind that makes us smile. And, on the other hand, a simple activity like a routine walk is relaxed and cheery.

You may not be aware of it then, but there is something telling about the calming powers of our four-legged friend. This has piqued the interest of researchers and indeed, many studies confirm that there are health benefits to being a pet owner.

Simple actions can deliver transformative results

We came across a 2010 poll by the dog food provider Winalot that showed that something as simple as petting our dog after a long, hard and stressful day at work can take away our worries.

Commenting on the findings of the survey at the time, psychologist Dr David Lewis, of Mindlab International, said:

“Forget the TV and interact with the dog instead. The research we conducted shows this is a profound and effective stress reducer and increases feelings of contentment and relaxation.”

The same rule applies for stroking cats. The key thing here is the reassuring effect of this simple process – for example, you sit on a couch, get comfy and then, via the simple and soothing motion of repeatedly moving your hand back and forth across your pet, let all your worries disappear.

Dog walks are good for your animal and you

As any dog owner will know, it is important to regularly exercise your pet to ensure they stay fit and healthy. This is not just important in terms of physique, but also in terms of mental wellbeing – walks prove to be stimulating for canine minds as well.

The same is true for owners, as, after all, they are equal participants in walking. Exercise may seem like a drab affair at best, but walking we are happy to do, if only for the fact it is something we can’t really avoid!

However, and this is great news, the benefits of regular walking at a ‘moderately intense level of activity’ are many – lowers of the risk of getting chronic illnesses like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, asthma and some cancers.

If you didn’t already know, walking your dog forms part of the Dogs Trust’s Canine Charter for Human Health. This revealing document shows that dog owners tend to make fewer visits to their GP, have lower blood pressure, are less likely to get depressed and can benefit from a stronger immune system.

All in all, smashing stuff.

The brilliant power of cats

While you can’t really walk a cat – please send us clips of your trying though – these charismatic creatures are nevertheless just as beneficial to your health. For example, a major 2011 study conducted by the Mental Health Foundation and Cats Protection found that they are a great source of comfort, they make owners more active and they alleviate anxiety.

It reported that a massive 87 per cent of cat owners believe their feline friend has a positive impact on their wellbeing, with 76 per cent of respondents saying that ‘coping with everyday life’ is easier with a cat in tow.

Speaking at the time, Dr Eva Chylarova, head of research at the Mental Health Foundation, said: “Looking after a pet can bring structure to your day, reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness and act as a link to other people.”

What marvellous creatures our pets are

From perking us up after a tough day to keeping us active in the evening, pets make for great, inspiring buddies who have the potential to transform and enrich our lives in so many ways.

A simple stroke of a pet can lessen your stress, playing with them can make you laugh, coming home to them can do away with loneliness and they can help you be more social.

And remember, no matter how old your pet gets, they deserve the best from you in return. Make sure that you are covered with insurance to make sure that they get the best medical care available for them should they become ill.