This month is National Pet Month and we thought it was the perfect time to share why having an animal in your life, is a blessing!

Whilst most people know that pets are great companions, there are other benefits that pets can provide to people living with disabilities or Autism.

Do you ever wonder why when you see an animal, it instantly makes you smile? Research shows that patting an animal helps your heart rate, blood pressure and respiration to calm down. The physical connection when you see an animal triggers the brain to release the bonding hormone called oxytocin, which makes us feel calm.

Animals are pure souls, they do not think about how you look, what you are wearing, or who you are, all they want is to be loved!

There is something special about animals, they can read your emotions through your body language and once you create the bond with them, they know how to cheer you up.

Some people with autism can depend on non-verbal communication to communicate, which is why they can interact with animals well. The skills they create with their furry friend can sometimes improve the persons interactions with others.

For physical health:For mental health:
Pets encourage you to exercise. From feeding your pet, to throwing toys, cleaning out your rabbit hut, taking your dog for a walk, all these activities can create an all-round workout.Animals can help if you have anxiety, boredom, loneliness, or isolation. They are the perfect companion and can provide comfort.
Increases your mobility as you must care for the animal each day.    Taking your fur friend out for a walk or letting them out in the garden, watching them do their funny tricks can help lift your spirits whilst being out in the fresh air.
Improves verbal communication.
When you take a dog out for a walk, people stop and talk to you. They might say, ‘how cute is your dog’, this encourages a conversation.
Helps to develop nurturing skills and teaches empathy. Animals also give you the opportunity to be responsible and care for another living creature, it teaches you to be compassionate and kind. 
Releases the bonding hormone oxytocin, which can make us feel calm.Shows how to treat others – you can learn how to treat others more kindly when owning a pet.
Improves the willingness to join in activities.A distraction. Animals can help keep people calm, and distract them when they are feeling stressed, anxious, or angry. This kind of distraction can have a calming affect during rough times.

People sometimes struggle with loneliness, responsibility or have difficulty making friends, pets are a great way to overcome those difficulties / challenges.

However, before you get yourself or a family member a pet, you need to be aware of what’s involved in taking care of it and how will they handle it.

  1. Can they safely care for the pet and provide it with all it needs?
  2. What support can you provide to help them care for the pet?
  3. Are you willing to organise and provide training for the pet?
  4. Do they have any allergies?

The benefits of a person living with a disability or Autism, owning or spending time with a pet can be amazing if you ensure you choose the correct pet, and have a suitable situation and environment.

At Brierley Community Hub in Little Hulton, we have regular visits from Samantha known as ‘Sam’,  a Labrador who is currently in training to become a guide dog.

“Sam is such a sweet lovely natured dog, she is so calm around the people we support, and they love her visiting Brierley, there is smiles all around and lots of petting! – Support Worker

Josh, a gentleman we support says: “When I am feeling anxious, I love being with my dog, he is my best friend and I really enjoy playing fetch with him. Knowing he is happy, makes me happy.”

We hope this blog has informed you on the benefits of having a pet. Happy International Pet Month!

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