Spare a thought "fur" mental health

Lady Scratching Dog

Most people are aware of the amazing work that assistance dogs do and the impact they can have on the lives of people with physical disabilities, but did you know that both cats and dogs can help with mental health issues too? As if we needed another reason to love those little, and big, furry friends!

According to the Mental Health Foundation, looking after a cat or dog can help people who suffer from a range of mental health disorders, including depression and anxiety - as well as anyone who is going through a particularly stressful time.

The foundation organises Mental Health Awareness Week, which began yesterday. Events are held throughout the week to raise awareness of mental health and wellbeing and you can read more about the event here. If you want to get involved there are some great opportunities for both you and your pet to have a positive impact on someone else’s life.

The Mental Health Foundation says, the responsibility of looking after a cat or dog is a great motivator when people need some purpose in their life, and we all know what good companions they make – great for anyone who is feeling a bit lonely.

Pets also help to combat stress in a multitude of ways. Like a friend, an animal can keep you grounded and be a loyal companion who is there to listen and provide support when you need it most. Exercise is also great for the mind and if you have a dog it is the perfect way to get active by going outside the house for a walk - which all contributes to reducing the amount of stress in our daily lives. Even spending time with them and stroking their soft fur helps to calm the mind. No wonder it’s one of our favourite ways to pass the time!

For those that don’t have a pet of their own, the fantastic charity Pets as Therapy arranges for volunteers and their pets to share some of the support and companionship with those that need it most. A team of over 5,000 volunteers take their beloved pets to visit places like schools, where children can build their confidence by reading to the dogs, care homes and hospitals. This provides much-needed comfort, joy, healing and friendship to thousands of people each year. We have been supporting PAT Dog for over ten years now, and we are always astounded by the difference the volunteers make and the joy that the animals bring.

So, next time you’re feeling down, take a minute to give your four-legged friend an extra cuddle to thank them for all they do! You could also celebrate them on our social media pages. Dog-lovers head to our HiLife Dog Facebook and Twitter pages, and cat-lovers head to our HiLife Cat Facebook and Twitter.
 

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