Leading universities publish research into the benefits of pet ownership, and an Edinburgh practice backs the idea
Two top universities have suggested GPs could prescribe pets to help boost activity and improve health.
A University of Cambridge and the University of East Anglia study found elderly people who owned or walked a dog were far more likely to be active.
The team suggested dog ownership or community walking schemes could be prescribed by GPs to help people get more exercise, and an Edinburgh practice is supporting the idea..
However, it is not just dog ownership which is beneficial. Studies have suggested owning a pet of any kind can have a huge range of benefits – from improved mental health to increased immune responses.
“This type of research confirms what many people know implicitly already – our pets enrich our lives in countless ways, from making us healthier, to making us happier,” said Lotta Holmberg from PawSquad – which offers a complete veterinary service where a trusted vet sees pets at home in and around Edinburgh.
“An animal makes life more joyful and gives us energy and meaning – whether you're a child, or post retirement.”
Because PawSquad vets visit animals at home they see the close, loving relationship between pets and owners – and how important it is that it goes both ways.
“When we visit owners and their pets in their own homes, we see first-hand the special bond they share every day and how the pet fits into the household,” said Lotta.
“It's very beneficial for us as vets, to observe the pet in their natural environment, and understand the interaction between pet and owner.
“We visit those who are housebound, elderly, with young children, or simply work long hours.
“In all cases, the pet has a clear positive impact on the quality of life of the owner – whether it's company, comfort, a reason to exercise, teaching children about animals, or unwinding after a busy day with play-time.”
Lotta said research like the University of Cambridge and UEA study emphasised how important it was to look after our pets.
“Unfortunately, many owners simply don't take their pet to the vet, because it's aggressive, nervous, they're housebound, it's too far, it's too expensive etc,” she said.
“That's part of the reason we've set up shop – reasonable prices for a home visit, longer appointment times and we come to you.”
The majority of pets get stressed by a visit to a vet practice. The sights, sounds and smells are sensory overload for them – something which is not conducive to a good consultation.
Examining pets in their own home means PawSquad vets get an accurate reading of their normal behaviour and vital signs and it is much less stressful for both pet and owner.
For more information or to book a home consultation with PawSquad, visit www.pawsquad.com