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Pets do us the world of good!

4 October 2010

Pets do us the world of good!

Today marks the start of Mental Health Awareness Week and Purina, New Zealand’s leading pet-care company is celebrating the bond between pets and humans and the positive impact they bring to our lives.

Shivaun Statham, Purina’s resident pet-care expert explains that many studies have been conducted to demonstrate the positive effect that pets can have on our mental health.

“A pet is a great friend and Purina has long known that a family cat or dog can make life happier. Pets are now playing an essential role in our lives, and having a cat or dog as a companion can help improve both our physical and emotional well-being,” says Ms Statham.

Ms Statham identifies several areas where pets play an important role in our health:

Social benefits
“Pets can be great conversation starters aiding in the reduction of anxiety levels. They can also help find love! Purina’s recent annual survey showed that almost a quarter of male dog owners (20.9%) used their dog to start a conversation with a good-looking stranger! Animals are often natural conversation starters and can be used to make love connections! Being happy and in love can only have a positive impact on our health,” says Ms Statham.

Behavioural benefits
“Owning pets gives people a sense of responsibility and encourages a nurturing side. Purina’s annual survey showed that pets are now considered very much part of the family. 51% of cat owners and 59% of dog owners consider themselves as mum or dad to their cats and dogs respectively. For children in particular, the responsibility of having a pet encourages social skills as they learn to be good friends, while paying attention to a pet’s needs also helps to build positive relationships,” says Ms Statham.

Emotional benefits
“Pets have the ability to make us feel good about ourselves. Purina’s annual survey showed that pets are becoming humanized and that the affection our pets show us is incredibly important. 72% of male cat owners agree that their cats are affectionate and one in five female dog owners cite that their dog showing them unconditional love is their pet’s top trait. Pets can also help with loneliness as they promote an interest in life! Through bonding with our pet we start to feel good, happy and secure,” says Ms Statham

Physical benefits
“Pets require stimulation and exercise and exercising helps to keep our minds active and in a positive state. The Purina survey revealed that over a quarter of male (29.9%) and female (28.2%) New Zealanders say that exercising with their dog is their favourite thing to do,” says Ms Statham.

The overall benefits of pet ownership to our mental health and wellbeing are far reaching, they help by providing unconditional love and fight depression by giving us comfort and companionship. Children who own pets from a young age have enhanced self-esteem and develop good nurturing skills, while adults benefit from decreased feelings of loneliness and isolation. This week in particular, Purina celebrate pets and their contribution to our mental health.

Mental Health Awareness week runs from 4 -10 October 2010.

- ENDS -

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