World Mental Health Day: Become a homesitter and reap the mental health benefits of animal companionship
Posted on 10 October, 2017
Today is World Mental Health Day and it comes as no surprise to us that studies show there are many mental health benefits to be gained from spending time with pets.
A study commissioned last year by pet food company, Butcher’s Pet Care[i] found that dog owners are fitter and healthier than those without canine companions, and spending time with animals has been found to lower the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in bodies.[ii] In fact, non-pet owners are four times more likely to be diagnosed with clinical depression than pet owners.[iii]
However, you don’t have to be a pet owner to reap the benefits of spending time with animals, you could join us as a homesitter instead, staying in people’s homes while they’re away and looking after their pets. This gives all the benefits of spending time with animals with none of the long-term responsibility.
Walking dogs can help improve mental health because fresh air and sunshine elevate the spirits and boosts vitamin D, and taking dogs for walks gets people moving and makes them more physically fit. Having an active lifestyle and being fit also makes people less susceptible to mental health issues.
Sue and Gordon Heels, a retired couple in their mid-sixties from Bedfordshire have been home and pet sitting with us since 2010. One of the biggest attractions of the job for them is looking after other people’s animals, especially dogs. They love dog walking as it gives them a chance to get out into the countryside and keep fit, whatever the weather.
Sue says, “Home and pet sitting provides us with a complete change of scene and we love spending quality time together taking the dogs for walks. One of our regular assignments is at a home surrounded by beautiful woodland where we take daily walks enjoying the wild flowers and the birdsong.”
Petting animals can also reduce stress, rhythmic stroking can be comforting to both parties and can release oxytocin, the hormone related to stress and anxiety relief.
Martin and Kristine Bell from Collingham in Nottinghamshire decided to start homesitting when they lost their beloved West Highland Terrier. While they love animals they decided not to get another dog so becoming homesitters seemed a good compromise.
Martin says, “There’s no better way of spending an evening than with a dog on your knee or by your feet to stroke while you’re reading, it gives us a great feeling of contentment.”
We are currently recruiting so if you’re interested in finding out more about home and pet sitting please click here or call us on 01296 630 730.