, May 24, 2024

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Pets: Small Unsung Heroes of Mental Health

  •   4 min reads
Pets: Small Unsung Heroes of Mental Health

Tales of bravery and kindness flood everyone’s timelines nowadays, including pets that have been the stars of social media because of their cuteness and silly antics. But more than the amusement they bring, pets have become a reliable companion for fur parents living alone or undergoing emotional stress.

As many of today’s individuals cope with the separation from their friends and family in this time of seclusion, now, more than ever, pets play a tremendous role in keeping people at ease with their unconditional loyalty and companionship.

Fitness Pals

With the new social distancing regulations, pets have become their owners’ partners in achieving an active and healthy lifestyle. With their furry friends around, pet owners come up with novel ideas for exercises to have their dogs or cats join in the fun. Some owners explore their homes by walking around the vicinity while others are even seen doing push-ups or sit-ups with their four-legged companions looking on.

Cat Timmy gives rescuer Chi Medalla a massage. Timmy was a stray who entered Chi's house in 2010 and became a house cat. He is friendly towards other cats and is a very talkative cat who usually responds when called, giving the Medallas verbal cues as if he understands what they are saying. He was adopted by Chi's sister-in-law and now stays at their condo in Eastwood. He stopped urinating everywhere after he was neutered. To Chi, cats are her stress busters. "They give you a sense of joy and fulfillment even if your pocket is always empty," Chi says. Rescuing cats comes naturally to Chi because she wants to help alleviate their pain and suffering. She can not walk away from an injured cat or kittens discarded like trash. She wishes more humans will be kind to stray kittens, cats, pups, and dogs. She hopes more humans will feed strays and will adopt them too.

Exercising with one’s pet is known to have several health benefits. Research shows that owning and exercising with a pet can significantly lower one’s blood pressure and help one calm down during stressful situations. Working out with pets also helps owners maintain their weight and aids in the development of one’s bones and muscles. It is important to make sure a pet is able to exercise comfortably as well, does not overheat, and has plenty of water available.

Companionship When It’s Needed Most

Several health experts are now expressing their concern over peoples’ mental health condition after being confined within one’s home for several weeks and stressful world events. The drastic change in routine and sudden loss of physical contact with people from the outside world may cause loneliness and anxiety in many.

Gab Santos, nine years old, learns unconditional love from cats, specially from Rafa who sleeps with him. His mom, Tet, rescues cats to save them from the suffering and cruelty on the streets. "Cats teach Gab to be kind and loving," says Tet. As for rescuing, Tet says: "Saving a life gives us a sense of purpose in life. It is good for our soul and mind."

Having pets around had been proven to have health benefits such as a decrease in heart rate and blood pressure, including the ability to alleviate loneliness and decrease anxiety. Pets can provide companionship and make people feel less lonely.

Stress Relievers

Even the act of simply petting a dog or cat can help ease feelings of stress. Physical contact such as hugging and petting one’s pet can not only improve the relationship between the two, but can help provide physical and psychological relief. Pet owners can still find peace in knowing they don’t have to stay six-feet away from their beloved furry pals to show affection.

Meanwhile, the pet community all over the world is coming together to upload and share photos of their pets for those who do not own any to uplift their spirits and help them cope with the quarantine. Social media platforms are flooded with photos of dogs, cats, and other pets enjoying more time with their owners.

Orange cat Billy always rubbed himself against rescuer Dolly Tuason whenever she went to Ortigas and fed stray cats. It was his way of saying thank you to Dolly whenever they saw each other. Dolly feels happy feeding the stray cats in the area and their language of love— rubbing against her and massaging her—makes her feel good. While Billy has been adopted, Dolly is so happy for him that he now has a loving family. Besides, there are so many stray cats who need to be fed there, waiting to be pet and to rub against a human to say thank you and to feel loved. Dolly has a lot of Billies who still need her love and help. If you want to adopt a stray cat, please message us and we will link you up with Dolly.

In the coming weeks, pet owners can take this opportunity to strengthen the bond with their pets and show gratitude to the small unsung heroes of mental health during this pandemic. (Pet Food Institute)

Pet Food Institute (PFI) is committed to educating pet owners about proper pet nutrition to keep pets healthy and happy. Through its local initiative, Well-Fed, Well-Nurtured campaign in partnership with the Veterinary Practitioners Association of the Philippines (VPAP), PFI seeks to advocate responsible pet ownership to the ever-growing Filipino pet community.

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