5 ways pets can make you happier and healthier

Imagine you’re sitting in a comfortable chair, with a purring cat on your lap. How do you feel? 

At Foxholes, we strongly believe that animal therapy can bring comfort and good health to elderly people living with dementia.

Pets are known to bring immense joy to their owners, with many reporting significant positive changes in their lives.

In fact, a cat’s purr has been known to have physical and mental healing properties in humans, ranging from lowered blood pressure to bone healing.

In today’s world, life can be stressful and fast-paced, with feelings of anxiety evermore prevalent. It’s more important than ever that we’re taking measures to look after ourselves.

So, here are 5 ways pets can make you happier and healthier.

Grey kittens sat on a fluffy bed.

1. Pets reduce anxiety and stress

Pet therapy is considered highly effective in reducing anxiety and stress levels. The stress-reducing hormone, oxytocin, is released when we engage with animals, helping us to feel good and dissolve negative thoughts. It’s a form of meditation, really; petting animals has been shown to lower blood pressure, and encourage mindful breathing. 

Pets are a powerful influence. They appreciate the simple things in life, and enjoy engaging in healthy activities. Dog owners, in particular, enjoy more time outdoors as they take their pup for a daily stroll. It’s a great way to encourage more exercise and exposure to nature, which are both key to reducing stress and anxiety.

2. Helps to combat loneliness

Most of us experience loneliness at some point in our lives. It’s not a pleasant feeling, no matter the degree at which you’re experiencing it. 

There’s no better companion than a furry friend. Whether it’s a hamster, rabbit, cat or puppy, they’ll keep you company all day – and you can tell them your stories, without fear of an undesirable opinion in return. It’s a win-win!

If you live alone, pets can offer you an invaluable sense of security, as well as a welcome companion who’s happy to share your life with you. 

At Foxholes Care Home, we’re treated to regular visits by our on-site animals – and the warmth and comfort they bring with them is truly irreplaceable.

Elderly lady stroking her pet cat.

3. Pets encourage self-care

Despite their ability to improve our health and happiness, pets can’t do much for themselves. But it’s this responsibility that encourages us to look after ourselves, too. When we get into the habit of feeding, grooming and cleaning up after a furry friend, it reminds us that we, too, need to indulge in self-care.

And by looking after ourselves, we’re in a much better position to care for those we love, and who need it most.

4. Increases our self-esteem

As beings that thrive from emotional connections, we gain a sense of self-esteem when we feel needed by others. Caring for an animal gives us new responsibility, and the unconditional love they provide is truly invaluable. Whether or not you own a pet, you can still experience these benefits simply by being in their presence for a short while.

5. Encourages mindfulness

Animals really are something to admire. They live completely in the present, appreciating the here and now for what it truly is. Their current state of being isn’t tainted by thoughts of the past or future.

This practice is known as mindfulness, and is something naturally adopted by animals. Unfortunately, humans don’t always find it so easy – we’re beings that have access to thoughts of past events and worries of the future, and they can often be strong enough to affect how we feel in the present.

Being in the presence of animals, though, can teach us how to live in the present moment. We’re encouraged to appreciate the simple things in life, learning how to give unconditional love to those who matter most.

If you don’t have a pet of your own, try spending a little time with someone else’s and notice how it makes you feel.

Jack Russell pets resting on a log, surrounded by lavender

Our story…

At Foxholes Care Home, pet therapy is something we like to encourage our people to get involved with. It helps us to maintain a sense of calm and peace throughout, whilst bringing joy into their lives. 

We’ve always loved having pets with us on-site. It all started with adopting two cats from an elderly lady who could no longer care for them. After a short while, we realised that they were actually a positive influence on some of the people that live with us – and so we put a cat care plan in place.

The next to arrive was a stray, which was hanging around the bushes outside the building. After spotting him, we invited him inside and fed him – and, of course, he kept coming back! Eventually, he started to sleep indoors, but in the evenings we would see him scuttling off to the bushes – so we made sure to ring the home each night to make sure someone had let him in. After suffering an injury, we took him to the vets, and his microchip revealed the details of his family. And after talking to them, they granted us the pleasure of letting him stay with us.

Our pets are loved so much that some of our residents keep extra treats in their bedrooms! We love our on-site furry friends, with cats and dogs making regular visits. If you’d like to find out more, please contact us here.