Most pet owners will tell you that their furry friend brings limitless joy to their lives - but new research has found that they’ve never been so important for our mental health.
The 2023 PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Report discovered that 94% of pet owners say that owning a pet makes them happy, with 44% going as far to say that their four-legged friend has been a lifeline during the cost of living crisis.
They surveyed 5,507 dog, cat, and rabbit owners aged over 18 and living across the UK and found that nearly every one of them - 90% - felt having a pet improved their lives.
Breaking it down to pet species, this was most keenly felt by dog (91%) and cat owners (89%).
With the current financial climate negatively affecting all areas of daily life - from soaring household bills to making regular socialising more expensive - it seems having a pet at home has been a welcome distraction. A huge 85% of respondents said owning a pet makes them feel less lonely.
Of course there are physical health benefits, too. While 87% stated owning a pet makes them mentally healthier, two thirds (67%) feel it makes them physically healthier – a figure that is even higher among dog owners (86%).
The PDSA advocates for keeping pets and their owners together, even if financially it might seem that the only option is to rehome them.
PDSA Veterinary Surgeon, Lynne James, said: 'Pets are family, and we know that pet owners will go to great lengths to ensure they can continue to care for their beloved pets. It vitally important that with everything pets do for us, we make sure that they have everything they need to live healthy and happy lives.
'I’d like to encourage pet owners who are struggling due to rising costs, and who are concerned about being able to afford the cost of veterinary treatment to reach out to us. Our website includes a free eligibility checker to find out whether they’re able to access our services, which is a great place to start.'
The charity - which delivers life-saving treatment to hundreds of thousands of pets across its 48 Pet Hospitals - also has plenty of free advice on how to reduce the cost of caring for pets, while ensuring they remain healthy and happy.