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  • Writer's pictureFiona Hewkin Counselling

Why Animals are Fabulous for our Mental Health


Cute puppy. Fiona Hewkin Counselling

Animals can be great for our mental health in a number of ways. They can provide companionship, reduce stress, and help us to feel more connected to the world around us. There is a growing body of research that suggests that animals can be good for our mental health. So why are animals fabulous for our mental health? Here are some of the benefits:


  • Reduce stress and anxiety. Caring for an animal can help to reduce stress and anxiety in a number of ways. For example, petting an animal can release oxytocin, a hormone that has calming effects. Additionally, animals can provide a sense of purpose and companionship, which can help to reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation.

  • Improve mood. Spending time with animals can also improve our mood. Animals can provide us with unconditional love and support, which can help to boost our self-esteem and make us feel happier. Additionally, animals can help to distract us from negative thoughts and feelings, which can help to improve our overall mood.

  • Increase physical activity. Owning a pet can also help to increase our physical activity. Dogs, for example, require regular walks and exercise, which can help us to stay fit and healthy. Additionally, physical activity can help to reduce stress and anxiety, which can further benefit our mental health.

  • Promote social interaction. Owning a pet can also help to promote social interaction. Taking our pets for walks or to the park can give us the opportunity to meet new people and make friends. Additionally, pets can help to break the ice and make social interactions easier.


Overall, there is a growing body of research that suggests that animals can be good for our mental health. If you are looking for ways to improve your mental health, consider getting a pet, or spending more time with animals.

Here are some additional benefits of owning a pet for mental health:

  • Reduces blood pressure and heart rate. Studies have shown that petting a dog can lower blood pressure and heart rate. This is likely due to the release of oxytocin, a hormone that has calming effects.

  • Boosts the immune system. Pet owners tend to have stronger immune systems than people who don't own pets. This is probably due to the fact that pets expose us to germs and bacteria, which helps to train our immune system. Basically they are a bit mucky.

  • Improves sleep quality. Studies have shown that pet owners tend to sleep better than people who don't own pets. Pets provide companionship and comfort, which can help us to relax and fall asleep more easily. Unless you have my cat, who takes up the entire bed and demands breakfast at 5 am!

  • Reduces stress and anxiety. As mentioned above, pets can help to reduce stress and anxiety in a number of ways. They can provide us with unconditional love and support, help us to stay active, and give us a sense of purpose. Studies have shown that petting a dog or cat can lower blood pressure and heart rate, and it can also help to reduce stress hormones such as cortisol.

  • Increases self-esteem. Pets can help to increase our self-esteem by providing us with that all important unconditional love. They can also help us to feel more confident and capable by giving us a sense of responsibility.

  • Provides companionship. Pets can provide us with companionship, which can be especially important for people who live alone or who are socially isolated. They can also help us to connect with other people who share our love of animals. Studies have shown that people who own pets are less likely to feel lonely and isolated than those who do not.


Animals can help us to feel more connected to the world around us. When we care for an animal, we are forced to focus on something outside of ourselves. This can help to take our minds off our own problems and worries, and it can also help us to feel more connected to nature.


If you are not able to have a pet, there are still ways to get the benefits of animal companionship. You can volunteer at a local animal shelter or rescue organization, or you can pet a friend's or neighbour’s pet. Take a look at charities like Cats Protection for volunteer opportunities. Offer to take your neighbour’s dog for a walk. Even just watching videos of animals can have a positive impact on our mood.


I ride my friends horse so I have all the fun of riding without the expense. That horse got me through my training, various life events, a house fire and all sorts of things with my sanity pretty much intact.


Horse and Rider. Fiona Hewkin Counselling

Overall, animals can be a valuable source of support for our mental health. They can provide companionship, reduce stress, and help us to feel more connected to the world around us.


If you are considering getting a pet for your mental health, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, make sure that you are prepared to take on the responsibility of caring for an animal. Pets require time, money, and effort, so make sure that you are ready to make that commitment. Second, choose a pet that is a good fit for your lifestyle and personality. For example, if you are active and outdoorsy, you might want to consider getting a dog. If you are more laid-back, you might want to consider getting a cat. As long as you don’t mind being ignored by said cat and treated like staff!


Cute kitten. Fiona Hewkin Counselling

If you do get a pet, be sure to do your research and find a reputable breeder or rescue organization. This will help you to ensure that you are getting a healthy and well-adjusted animal.


As ever if you would like to talk more about this or enquire about counselling in general you can get in touch using the contact form


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