The bond between humans and their pets has become stronger than ever in these tough times. And it’s taught us plenty.
The health and happiness of Aussie dog owners has become overwhelmingly dependent on the welfare of their pets, a new study has found.
New research illustrates that the emotional bond between humans and canines has become stronger than ever during these challenging times.
The study – The link between human happiness and animal health – by dog supplement maker ZamiPet found:
* 95 per cent of dog owners agree their pet makes them happier
* 94 per cent of owners believe their dog supports their mental health
* 93 per cent of owners agree their dog makes them healthier
Given the significant spike in pet ownership due to the Covid-19 pandemic, these findings indicate the potential for a positive ripple effect upon mental health in our communities.
Especially given the adverse affect of lockdowns and other harsh restrictions upon the mental health of many Australians.
Australian veterinary surgeon and Head Vet at ZamiPet Dr Andrew McKay said the strong bond that dogs create with their owners is behind this emotional attachment.
On top of previous research that has found that interactions between humans and canine can cause our brains to release the ‘bonding’ hormone Oxytocin.
“It’s the unconditional love that dogs give you,” Dr McKay said.
“I see that when my own kids are in the company of our dog or how he can make me feel better when I’m feeling a bit down. This study of 1000 owners highlights that correlation between a happy pet person and a happy person.”
The other side of that coin however means that when our pets aren’t well, that impacts adversely upon their owners.
The ZamiPet study also found:
* 97 per cent of Australian dog owners would be devastated if anything happened to their pet
* 92 per cent of owners are emotionally impacted if their dogs is sick
* 55 per cent of owners are extremely concerned about their dogs life expectancy
* 52 per cent of owners are extremely concerned about their dog’s happiness and demeanour
“Many of us have experienced the stress and upset of a sick or injured pet – it impacts our mood, our mental health and our happiness,” Dr McKay said.
“This research confirms what pet lovers have always known – our health and happiness are heavily influenced by our pet’s own health and happiness.”
For Chanelle Harman and her wife Natalie Todeschini, their three-year-old Whippet/Kelpie/Jack Russell cross Albus Dumbledog “is everything”.
“I had dogs growing up and I have always loved that companionship,” Ms Harman said.
“We made sure we got a dog that would fit into our lifestyle and very quickly he became our world. He is an equal member of our family. I can’t imagine a life without him. When he’s not here, the house feels like it has lost its soul.
“We decided not to have kids and while he doesn’t take the role of a child, when he is sad or sick it really affects us. I have taken days off work just to be with him.
“And because of that we are very conscious of his looking after his physical and mental health.
“He makes us so happy.”
PET ADVICE: TIPS TO KEEPING YOUR DOG HAPPY AND HEALTHY
* People often ask me ‘what is the best thing for our dog’? That is to love it and care for it in the best possible way, starting from when they are puppies including vaccinations and worming.
* You have to remember, dogs do have different needs to us. They might be your fur babies and be a big part of the family but they have different needs to us and you have to provide for those needs.
* Love your dog but do it smartly. Giving it the best cut of fillet steak is not doing the best thing by it. Your dog needs a balanced diet.
* Dogs are pack animals, they always have been, that’s why you need to socialise them from a young age, eg at the dog park. They see other dogs and learn to interact with them while growing up. The pheromones they get from smelling other dogs really stimulates them. If they don’t socialise they will be anti-social and you don’t want that.
* Taking your dog everywhere and it never leaving your side is a bad thing and can lead to anxiety issues. Don’t be afraid to leave your dog at home from a young age for short periods of times to avoid separation anxiety.
* Exercise and time outside is vital. It stimulates them mentally just as much and physically. This should be a key part of your and their overall lifestyle.
Expert tips via Australian veterinary surgeon and Head Vet at dog supplement maker ZamiPet Dr Andrew McKay