With the COVID-19 global pandemic impacting all of us in one way or another in the last 18 months, our much loved family pets have become even more important to us. Whether you had them before the first lockdown kicked in or you joined the trend of lockdown puppies, it’s clear the value of our furry friends and our mental health are inextricably bound.
There is much publicised about the link between exercise and mental health. The thing about our canine friends is that most don’t care if it’s cold, wet or dark; they want to go out. This routine of the morning walk sets us up for the day, getting our heart rate going and releasing endorphins. There is something special about being out and about early and passing the time with fellow dog walkers giving us precious conversation with other people. It’s so important for humans to connect with others and dogs give us a good reason to get out for fresh air.
Pets as company
Well ok sometimes we moan about fur, chewed up shoes or our sofa being used as a scratching post but the bottom line is our animal companionship is important. Walking through our front doors, knowing that we will likely be greeted with a wagging tail or a feline friend entwining itself round our ankles doesn’t fail to bring a smile to our faces. Loneliness is a massive contributor to mental health issues and the joy of pets means you’re never alone.
The impact of lockdown on pets owning
Lockdown meant many people either furloughed or working from home suddenly realised they could give the time they wanted to a pet. At a time when most of us were only speaking face to face to those people in our own household, having a reason to leave and interact albeit socially distanced with other dog walkers was precious. This drove up demand and therefore the price of many dog breeds. In recent times many breeds are being brought in from the continent or through more unscrupulous means of farming. Are we driving up this market for specific breeds? Arguably yes so as always we need to ensure we are buying from reputable breeders and putting the same amount of thought into the decision as we would have pre pandemic.
How pets help with mental health
The bottom line is aside from exercise and companionship pets really do have a relaxing effect. There is actual science behind petting or stroking an animal and improving your mood. It’s a sensory experience that helps to increase oxytocin levels and bring down cortisol levels which is a stress-related hormone. And it’s not just a touch sensory experience but an auditory one as the sound of a cat purring can be incredibly soothing. There is something just wonderful about gazing into your pets eyes. They don’t play mind games with you, they have no agenda, no ability to judge and a seemingly endless capacity for love. They really do become a member of the family, just one we never fall out with or argue with.