Pets To The Rescue!

We’re a nation of animal lovers with two fifths of people in the UK owning a pet, but many of us still don’t realise the benefits of our furry friends, some of which can be life-saving.

A recent ‘Better with Pets’ meta-research review and a survey commissioned by Purina, reveal the benefits pets bring to society and that a huge 63 percent of people in the UK don’t know that dogs can detect the early signs of cancer, a third are unaware that dogs can alert their owners to potential seizures, and a fifth don’t realise dogs can help autistic children. However, 3 in 5 people in the UK would consider owning a pet, if they knew the health and wellbeing benefits they bring.

According to the survey, 3 in 5 of the nation’s pet owners say that their pet has improved their health and wellbeing with a significant 97 per cent saying pets have a positive effect on their mental health. And the benefits are not only to people in the UK’s health, their pocket is better off too. On average pet owners believe they save £322 per year on healthcare costs with one in 10 saving over £500. If your pet lives for an average of 12 years that could be a saving of £6,000 at least on top of a lifetime of fun and cuddles with your four-legged best friend.

Professor Daniel Mills at the University of Lincoln, who spoke at Purina’s Better with Pets European Forum last month, said that pet ownership can help save the NHS £2.5 billion a year – animal assisted activities and therapy (AAT) can play an important role in this cost saving. In fact, over a third of people recognise the benefits of pets in therapy and recovery and 77 per cent would consider AAT, but less than 1 per cent surveyed have taken part in any form of AAT in the past.

Mills comments: “While these numbers are not perfect, there is definitely something there that the public health and pet care community needs to pay attention to. Understanding the subtleties and nuances of how people and pets work together is vitally important for the well-being of both, and has the potential to make a massive difference to public health. But it is crucial that the industry is given an opportunity to analyse this further. Ignoring the evidence is a far greater problem than dismissing the research as being at an early stage.”

Top ten benefits pets bring to society that Brits are unaware of:

1 Dogs can be trained to detect the early stages of cancer
2 The level of job satisfaction is higher for people who bring their dog to work
3 Pets can lower blood pressure and cholesterol
4 Dogs can be trained to turn on lights
5 Dogs can be trained to alert their owner before they have a seizure
6 Dogs can be trained to cross a road safely alone
7 Dogs can help autistic children to express themselves
8 Pets can decrease the risk of childhood anxiety and boost a child’s confidence
9 Pets can have positive effects on self-esteem
10 Dogs and cats can help improve physical, mental and societal wellbeing of the elderly

The survey also reveals that pets can have another big impact on society – getting people to switch off. 7 out of 10 people say that their pets provide a better social life than social media and even the truly digital generation prefer pets – 62 per cent of 16-24 year olds prefer a social life away from social media thanks to their pet.

Despite the popularity of pet social media accounts, over two thirds say social media has not improved their relationship with their pet, and a significant 83 per cent of people in the UK don’t believe social media can ever replace companionship with pets.

Richard Watson at Purina comments: “We believe that society is stronger and healthier when pets are welcomed into it. As pet owners we know this and we also know that pets’ positive role on people and society can often be undervalued. A number of factors are affecting pets and pet owners more than ever. At Purina we have made commitments to help create a world where people and pets can be better together and we hope that people in the UK will join us to help make our society a better place with pets very much at the heart of it.”

Get involved in the conversation at #wearebetterwithpets. For more information, please visit www.purina.co.uk/pins

About the Author

Adam McBride
Blogger specialising in business, startups, the economy and technology.