herriot news blog

7 Ways Animals Can Improve Your Health

Published: January 2017

Watching TV shows about animals or being around animals is a great way to get rid of January blues. Here’s why animals can improve health and happiness and perk you up when you’re feeling low.

The winter is really kicking in, up in North Yorkshire. After a mild and lovely Christmas, James Herriot country is being blessed with (freezing) clear blue skies and sprinklings of snow.

It’s the time of year that makes you want to snuggle up warm on the sofa under a blanket after work, preferably next to a roaring fire. If you’re anything like us, you’ll find yourself flicking through tv channels or netflix for feel good shows. Anything that features animals, farms, veterinary practices or pets, is the top choice.

There’s been an upsurge of real life animal tv shows in the past few years like; The Yorkshire Vet ( based on our very own James Herriot’s veterinary practice,) Planet Earth featuring the narrative of legend David Attenborough and obviously re-runs of the beloved 80’s classic ‘All Creatures Great And Small’ never go a miss. There’s always an animal show to binge watch after a stressful day at work, sorting out the house or running around after small kids ( or adult kids!)

If you’re feeling less than perky on a cold evening, you can guarantee switching on one of these tv shows, featuring beautiful, extraordinary animals, will boost your mood.

Watching animals on tv, YouTube or even looking at cute animal pictures whilst procrastinating at work, is good for your mood and productivity levels. A study by Japanese scientists found that test groups who were shown images of adorable animals, showed an increase in positivity levels and happiness.

The same goes for being around real life animals and pets. Animal assisted therapy sessions have gained momentum in the past few years. They see therapists bring pet dogs, cats or other cuddly creatures into sessions, to encourage feelings of companionship and psychological well being in clients. This practise is based on the theory, that those who are lucky enough to have pets, appear to prioritise the human-animal bond.

You can’t deny, that any animals, pets, friends pets or animals you treat if you’re a vet, really lift your spirits when you’re feeling not so great.

As much as they can cause havoc, molt all over your new sofa, chew through wires or eat the roast chicken you left out, you wouldn’t be without them. They’re warm, cuddly and there for you when everyone else is still at work or out and about.


Here’s 7 reasons animals are great for your health!


#1 They’re good for your heart

Animals and pets in general, are amazing for heart health, even if they do seem to test our patience some days. Studies have shown, that owners of pets, especially cats, show a decrease in cardiovascular diseases. Having daily interaction with the family pet, or working with animals showed a positive link to reduced blood pressure, cholesterol levels and heart attack risk. Remember that, when your little ones go through the ‘ I want a dog/rabbit/cat/hamster’ phase!


#2 Animals make you happy (even when you’re really sad!)

If you watch animal tv shows or animal movies, then you will already know how warm they make you feel. Animals are proven to be mood boosters and are used as a way to help treat depression and anxiety. Studies show, that spending time with a dog or cat helps to stimulate and increase levels of serotonin and dopamine. The happiness and calming chemicals that work on our bodies. Interaction with animals helps to release feelings of affection, which is sometimes switched off when you’re not feeling your best. If you are going through a tough time in life, or just feeling a bit low in mood, the thought of having a loving pet to just cuddle or warm up your cold feet, is enough to make you feel better again.


#3 Pets and animals help reduce your stress levels

You know the days when you wake up with ten million and one things to do, stress about doing them, procrastinate, don’t do any of them and find yourself making cups of coffee just to get through the day? Those of you who have pets will know that this can be counteracted just by giving your animal a bit of love or taking them out for a big, energetic walk.. Human stress levels, have been shown to be rapidly reduced from frequent interaction with animals. This is due to oxytocin (the stress and anxiety relief hormone) being released. This helps to lower blood pressure and levels of cortisol. Next time you’re struggling to de-stress, take a deep breath, call your furry best friend and get yourselves out in the fresh air, or just cuddle up on the sofa for a while.



#4 They make you more mindful

Animals don’t worry or care about what happened yesterday or what’s going on in the future. All they care about is the present and enjoying themselves now. Pets can teach you to be present and engaged in the here and now. This can help take your thought off any stresses or worries that are in your life at the moment and focus on enjoying each day as it comes. See moments with your pet as time to focus on the both of you and really enjoying every minute of it.


#5 Animals gives you a feeling of companionship

It is thought that humans need other humans to live fulfilled and rich lives, but studies have shown that this may not be the case, with pets providing the same benefits as people, according to the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

It’s well known that owners of pets show greater levels of self esteem and are able to handle feelings of rejection better than those without pets. They also provide young children with a ‘best friend’ and encourage them to develop early feelings of empathy.


#6 Animals reduce allergies and boost immunity

Suffer with allergies? Not if you’ve grown up with animals! Children who have been brought up in households with animals have been shown to present less allergies than those who have not. This even includes common household allergies like; hay fever, tree pollen, dust and fur allergies. The effects of allergies can be frustrating and irritating especially when it comes into the spring months. Even more reason to fill your house with furry friends!


#7 Animals teach you to have fun!

Owning a pet or going on walks with your friend or families dogs, is a chance to release your playful side! If your day can be filled with stressfull household tasks, busy work days in an office or late nights studying, then it’s easy to forget how to have real, silly fun. Having a big bundle of fur to play, with is your go ahead to just let loose and go a bit crazy. Forget you’re an adult for a while. Wrestle, play ball, have a dance and just prance around for a bit. You will both benefit from it! The same goes with watching animal videos and shows. Belly laughing at hilarious YouTube videos and sharing them with your friends, gives you some time out from reality and re-connects you to your inner child.


For further information please contact: Ian Ashton, World of James Herriot, 23 Kirkgate, Thirsk, North Yorkshire, YO7 1PL.. Tel: 01845 524234. E-mail: mail@worldofjamesherriot.com

Press Contact: John Gallery, Herriot Country Tourism Group. Tel: 07967 032623. E-mail: johngallery@herriotcountry.co.uk