National Pet Month - April 2017

Pets and animals have been an important part of our lives throughout history and April is National Pet Month. Apart from celebrating the wonderfulness of having pets, there is also focus on the Top Ten Tips for Responsible Pet Ownership to highlight the importance of care for our pets.

The relationship between human and animals go back a long way and researchers found that certain cells in a particular part of our brain involving emotions, only responds when we see animals but not people, places or objects.

The researchers theorised that we have these cells because some animals would have been a threat to our ancestors, others would have been for eating and some would have been useful to us. Being able to distinguish them helped us stay alive and is likely to have led to our love of animals today.

Having a pet can improve wellbeing and much research has shown this to be the case. Pet owners were found to have significantly lower risk of developing coronary heart disease. The presence of animals, even fish in a tank, during a stressful task such as reading aloud, can help reduce stress levels. 

Studies have found subjects who were shown moving images of animals whilst reading aloud also experienced reduced effects of stress. So it doesn't have to be live animals that can have an impact. The benefits extend to education as research demonstrated that children who struggle and feel nervous reading aloud are helped by reading to dogs to build their confidence.

For those of us who don’t have pets, we can still increase our wellbeing. It’s well-known that looking at pictures of cute animals can make us happier. Research has shown that it can even improve performance in tasks that require behavioural carefulness such as driving and office work.

With cat cafes emerging, pet sitting websites, and being able to volunteer as a guide dog puppy walker, there are ways to enjoy the company of animals as a non-pet owner. Many of us are just pleased to be able to watch videos and see pictures of cute animals on the internet.

As a nation of animal lovers, we are fortunate to experience the benefits of their company and we can reciprocate that love by looking after their welfare and supporting animal charities.

Do you have a pet? Share your story of what your pet means to you.

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