FEATURE: Why Animals Are Good For The Soul

Our relationship with animals connects us to the world around us and can distract us from the narrow focus of our human struggles. Find out how pets can enhance our social and emotional wellbeing…


Feature by Katie Randall, Environmental Manager, AXA PPP Healthcare

What is it about pets that are proven to lower our stress levels and invite calmness and peace into our otherwise chaotic lives? Dogs and cats have been domesticated for around 10,000 years now and became so for very different reasons. It is believed that the cat domesticated itself by becoming rodent controllers when humans began arable farming which worked well for the farmers while the dog was earlier – when humans were hunter gatherers and ate large quantities of meat – and dogs were easily lured by leftovers. A dog’s loyalty being with its feeder, their barking to alert of predators was appreciated and dogs were soon kept as part of the tribal setup.


Over the years, this suitable and practical arrangement has developed into relationships that the majority of us could not live without and now it would seem it has gone even further becoming a scientific fact that pets can help us all live longer. There is the first obvious benefit from having a dog in particular – a dog has to be walked so straightaway, your fitness level is increased but perhaps the second benefit is more important – the psychological one which although harder to quantify, cannot be denied.


It has been proven that the stroking of a cat or a dog lowers your blood pressure and releases oxytocin (which is a good happy thing) not to mention being good for your pet. This goes hand in hand with the welcome you receive from your cat or your dog when you return after being absent – as every pet owner will confirm, your worries of the day seem to melt away when you are greeted by a bundle of glorious unconditional love! And then there are the emotional times – animals can sense your sadness and sometimes it seems no one understands you more than your four legged friend – plus they always take your side! They are fantastic listeners too – I don’t know a pet owner who doesn’t talk to their animals.

So owning a pet can give a real feel good factor and encourage a feeling of positivity – I raise my hat to the nursing homes and hospitals who have let pet owners pets visit them in their time of need. If you can’t own a pet, borrow one for walks or join friends while they walk theirs. Waggy tails and wet noses are good for the soul!

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