This is why we should celebrate National Love Your Pet Day

It's National Love Your Pet Day on February 20, so time to celebrate our cute and cuddly four legged friends, and all kinds of pets, for the joy and love they bring in to our lives.

Pets are so good for our mental wellbeing that scientists suggest they should be a main part of the support available to those who suffer from mental illnesses.

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With 51 million pets in the UK, there is no doubt the nation is full of pet lovers, but few know the full benefits of sharing your life with animals.

tombola has compiled 10 reasons why pets are the best friend you can have, along with the best (dog and cat) breeds for those who may be considering a pet to help mental health.

Some of the reasons to be thankful for your pet this ‘National Love Your Pet Day’ are:

1 Petting a dog for only 15 minutes lowers blood pressure by 10 per cent.

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2 It releases serotonin, oxytocin, prolactin and even lowers the stress hormone cortisol. These feel-good hormones lower our stress and anxiety, serotonin being the main thing antidepressants try to replicate.

Cats, rabbits and even turtles have the same effect, studies show.

4 Residents in a nursing home felt less lonely after spending time with pooches than being with humans.

5 Children favour their pets over their siblings: “The fact that pets cannot understand or talk back may even be a benefit as it means they are completely non-judgmental.”

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6 A hospital in the U.S scanned mothers’ brains who owned a dog. They found that their brains were activated in similar ways when viewing their own child and their own dog. There is also evidence to show the relation with our dog is extraordinarily like the parent-child bond.

7 Burns Pet Nutrition revealed recently that cuddling up with the dog (50 per cent) tops cuddling up on the sofa with a partner (36 per cent).

8 The American Heart Association has linked the ownership of pets with a reduced risk of heart disease and greater longevity.

9 Growing up in a less sterile environment - surrounded by animals, pet hair and dust not only gives us a better immune system but also benefits our body’s response to anxiety.

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10 Wheelchair users with a dog reported that they engaged in more conversations with strangers than those without.

Pets can help us cope with tough times and dogs, more than any other animal have become attuned to humans.

They’re able to pick up on our emotions, moods and behaviours, and while dog and cat owners alike can attest to the joys of snuggling up to or playing with their cuddly companions, science can now prove these benefits too.

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