Pets can help you avoid those January blues

Tinsel and turkey seem a long way behind us after the Christmas and New Year celebrations have faded. Some people can feel a little blue as they head back to reality.

Yet many households have a super power that can help banish those blues – our beloved pets, who can not only improve our mood, but also our physical health as well.

PDSA senior vet, Elaine Pendlebury, said: “Pets bring with them the most generous of gifts – unconditional love and companionship. From greeting you when you get home to enjoying a nice long walk in the fresh air, studies have found that pets really do have a positive effect on our health and wellbeing.”

Not only are owners less likely to suffer with depression than those without pets, they often have greater self-esteem, feel less fearful and less lonely, with pets acting as a great social catalyst, for example, meeting other dog owners while out walking. Another study found that older pet owners coped better with stressful events than non-owners.

Pets often add structure to people’s lives, with regular feeding and exercise to add to the day’s task list. As well as the physical benefits of taking dogs for walks, pet owners can have significantly lower cholesterol levels compared to people without pets. Cat owners needn’t feel left out though – they have a decreased risk of death from a heart attack or stroke, according to the University of Minnesota.

Other studies have found that simply watching fish in an aquarium can have a calming effect, as can stroking a cat or listening to a contented purr.

Elaine added: “Pet ownership brings many wonderful benefits, so it’s no wonder so many owners view their pets as members of the family.”

PDSA is on a mission to educate the nation on pet wellbeing and is delighted that funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery is helping the charity to continue this vital work.