For many, our pets are an integral part of our family. Owning pets provides many benefits to our health and well-being, one of the major benefits being companionship. Owning pets can help reduce stress, encourage regular physical activity and gives owners a reason to get out of bed. Pets provide their owners with emotional support while recovering from an illness or injury and research has shown the human-animal bond has a very positive effect on emotional and physical well-being such as a positive attitude, lower blood pressure, and better managed stress.
So, what happens when we are unable to look after them? Illness, financial difficulty, having to move into care etc. all impact our ability to look after our pets. There are a few options:
- If you have to move into care or a retirement villages, check will the operator as some will allow certain types of pets.
- Family or friends may be happy to take on your pet in these instances. It is a good idea to discuss this with them, and have a contingency plan if their situation changes and they are no longer able to look after them as well.
- Organisations like the Pet Guardian Network will help you and your pet remain together as long as possible, and will help to rehome your pet if necessarily
- The SPCA, for example, offer an Animal Assistance Programme whereby if your situation changes and you can con longer look after your pet, you can call on them for special assistance. Also, local pet rescue organisation will be able to help you re-home your pet.
It can be quite an adjustment going from having a pet as your ‘everyday’ companion to no longer being by your side, so if you do have to move into care and cannot take your pet with your, what can you do to still reap those positive benefits of owning a pet? An option may be to ask the facility manager to look into pet therapy, and get a local provider to come in to the facility so you can spend some one on one time with a furry friend. Another option may be to ask if it is okay for your family or friend to bring your pet to visit you.