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Difference our pets make to our mental health

Across the animal-loving Agria team, we have our fair share of pets; from fish to gerbils to cats, dogs, rabbits, horses, sheep and many more! And judging by the percentage of our conversations that revolve around the crazy things our pets have been up to, how they make us laugh and how much comfort they give us – we’re in no doubt of how special they are.

Laura Townsend, Customer Service Advisor at Agria, is one example of our team whose dog, Coco, is her world: I’ve grown up with animals. There has never been a time in my life where I didn’t have a pet – it would be strange without them! I volunteer for the RSPCA in my spare time, so I also get to spend a lot of time with other animals who have not had a good start in life to make them feel loved. This is where we found Coco, our 2-year-old crossbreed. She was featured on the Channel 5 show ‘The Dog Rescuers’, and appeared in a few news articles too - poor thing was dumped in a bin when she was a puppy! We now make sure that she knows she is loved and is spoilt 24/7.We can’t imagine our lives without her!”

Pets can transform our lives. From helping with loneliness, bereavement and depression, to becoming the centre of a family and boosting everyone’s mood, to being the reason to get out and socialise; time and time again, the comfort and interaction we have with our pets can change everything.

Writing in The TelegraphRachel Cunliffe explains the impact a rescue kitten had on her life and the anxiety she was experiencing: "Suddenly, I didn’t have the luxury of being immobilised with terror and doubt. There was a small excited fluffy thing that needed feeding and petting and having sponges thrown for her to chase. I had to put my anxiety on hold. I couldn’t be sad about coming back to an empty flat when I was greeted by an indignant fur-ball. I couldn’t indulge in self-pity about being unloved when I had a cat purring ecstatically on my lap. My cat might not be magic, but for me, she has turned out to be the perfect anti-depressant."

Meditation and mindfulness expert, Andy Puddicombe, well-known as the voice of mindfulness app, Headspace, spoke to us about the benefits of walking a dog: “Going for a brisk walk is one of the best things we can do for our mental health. It not only helps improve our physical fitness, but in being more present in the body, it also helps us to step out of all the inner chatter in the mind. So, it's perhaps no surprise that we might feel less tense, less stressed, and more optimistic after a good walk.”

Dr Carri Westgarth, Lecturer in Human-Animal Interaction at University of Liverpool, adds, Research shows that walking with your dog not only has a huge impact on your physical activity levels, it makes you feel better too! It’s also been shown that watching your dog having a good time is a huge stress reliever.”

Find out more about World Mental Health Day from Mind

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