In the UK we are a nation of animal lovers. From dogs, cats, fish and hamsters, we're even bringing farm animals and reptiles into our homes with open arms. From giving us hugs when we're sad, to being excited to see us when we get home, and making us laugh when we're down, it's no wonder we love having them around.
But did you know there are even scientifically proven benefits to being around animals? Read on to find out a few!
Being Around Animals is Calming (& Lowers Blood Pressure!)
It's not hard to see how animals can be calming. Stroking a fluffy cats soft fur while they sit on your lap is incredibly relaxing, (even if your clothes do get covered in fur), and watching fish swim around their tank can be almost hypnotic. But did you know that in heart studies conducted around the world, pet owners had lower blood pressure and lower heart rates compared to those who didn't own a pet!
Research also found that people with dogs in particular often are less stressed, meaning their heart rate and blood pressure does not rise as high in periods of stress as those without dogs. That's pretty amazing if you think about it!
Being Around Animals Lifts Our Mood (& Makes us less Anxious!)
Being around animals or even just watching them is proven to make us feel less anxious and stressed. Watching or interacting with animals naturally lowers a hormone in our body called cortisol, a hormone associated with stress, and increases serotonin, a hormone associated with wellbeing.
They can even be amazing tools in battling depression, with some therapists and doctors even recommending people get a pet when possible. Not only do they provide company and someone to talk to who will always listen without judgement, they also provide comfort, a sense of security, and even give people the motivation to leave the house!
Being Around Animals Makes us More Sociable (& Makes it Easier to Make Friends!)
Dogs are of course probably the best at encouraging people to be more sociable. If you've ever been on a dog walk you'll know that dog walkers love to stop for a chat, and even people without dogs will stop you to talk about your ball of fluff!
But all animals can have this positive effect on us. Not only does it give us something to talk about to others, but it gives us the chance to bond with other animal lovers with a common interest already shared. Even a trip to the pet store can be a chance for socialisation - maybe you might bump into someone who's got the same unique reptile as you, or you find out your hamsters both share the same name!
Of course it can be a lot of responsibility and can cost quite a bit to have a pet, especially more than one. But even volunteering at the local shelter can be beneficial to get your dose of animal love, or offering to look after a friends cats while they're away. It's important not to get an animal if you can't look after it or properly provide what it needs.
If you care for someone you might not have the time to look after an animal full time, but occasionally offering to walk the next door neighbors dog might be the boost you need during the week!
Read more about the benefits of animals here. And let us know what animals you have and how they help you in your life! We'd love to see a picture!