There are great benefits for our health and wellbeing in keeping a pet. Figures from the Royal Veterinary College suggest that there are 588,186 cats and 871,083 dogs, in Scotland, statistics based on the number of animals being attended by vets. Numbers for other types of pets are difficult to come by but the species of animals kept in Scottish homes is wide and often exotic.
Keeping a pet reduces stress and anxiety and ‘can be a great source of comfort, companionship and motivation for their owners. In many ways, pets can help us to live mentally healthier lives’
The study carried out by the Mental Health Foundation in 2011 of cat owners also found that ‘87% of people who owned a cat felt it had a positive impact on their wellbeing, while 76% said they could cope with everyday life much better thanks to the company of their feline friends.’
For children with autism having access to horses and dogs has been found to be calming. It is further claimed that for people with autism interaction with animals increases the desire and ability to socially connect with others. Clearly more research in this area would be valuable.
Rescue Scottish Pets lists that in addition to cats, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs and goldfish: animals requiring to be rehomed include everything from reptiles and fish to horses and birds. Some of the animals are there because of the death or illness of their owners but it is a sad fact that many are there due to abandonment.
Owning a pet does carry with it responsibilities and expenses. Sainsbury’s Pet Insurance estimates the cost of keeping a dog over its lifetime comes in at £16,900 with a cat topping that at £17,200. This does not include what some owners may have bought their pet for.
Owning and caring for a pet may improve heart health by lowering blood pressure and reducing the heart rate in times of stress. Animals which require exercising have increased benefits to their owners because their owners have to exercise with them. There are also the amazing stories of loyal and brave pets from Greyfriars Bobby to the messenger pigeons used to deliver messages in war time. Keeping a pet can have so many advantages to our life but it must be done with thought given to the costs and responsibilities.
If you have a pet, why not share a photo with the readers of The Orkney News