Nine in 10 pet owners say their animals have a positive effect on their wellbeing – but just four in 10 have insurance to protect them, a study has found.
An overwhelming 94 per cent say their four-legged friends have a positive impact on their health, making them feel happier (89 per cent) and calmer (50 per cent).
Nearly half cite the unconditional love their pets provide (45 per cent), while 34 per cent feel their wellbeing is improved by getting outside (34 per cent) for walks.
The poll of 2,000 pet owners, commissioned by M&S Bank Pet Insurance to mark National Pet Month (April 1 – May 3), also found they are an essential source of companionship and laughter.
And one in five (18 per cent) credit their animals with helping them to meet new people (18 per cent).
As a result, 89 per cent of those polled consider their pet to be a key member of the family.
However, 44 per cent don’t have insurance to help cover the cost of treatment should their beloved companion become ill or injured.
Nearly a quarter (22 per cent) said that they wouldn’t be able to cover the £817 average cost of a pet insurance claim.
Reasons for not taking out pet insurance included seeing it as an unnecessary expense (32 per cent), not feeling they need it (21 per cent) and simply not getting around to purchasing it (13 per cent).
Paul Stokes from M&S Pet Insurance said: “Britain is known to be a nation of animal lovers and our research certainly seems to reaffirm that.
“It’s great to see the many different ways our beloved pets positively improve our overall wellbeing and bring us happiness – this goes to show just how important they are to millions of people across the UK.
“Having a happy, healthy pet is a top priority for every pet owner, but coping with an unexpected veterinary bill can be difficult.
“Having pet insurance in place can help to take away this worry.”
The poll also revealed that the ability to make them smile (65 per cent) and cheer them up (56 per cent) are among the things that owners love about their pets, in addition to being able to pet them (55 per cent).
Further to this, those polled revealed they will spend 87 minutes relaxing with their pets, 34 minutes chatting with them and nearly half an hour (26 minutes) playing together during a typical day.
On top of that, an average of 33 minutes is spent exercising with their furry friend, with more than half believing they exercise more than they would without their pet’s influence.
Additionally, 47 per cent of pet owners said they have made new human friends as a direct result of their pets.
Top 10 ways owners say their pet improves their wellbeing
- They make me feel happier
- Offer me companionship
- Make me laugh
- They make me feel calmer
- Help take my mind off things
- Know they love me unconditionally
- Bring positivity to my life
- Help me get outside every day
- Help me appreciate the small things in life
- Help me stick to a daily routine
Top 20 things owners love about their pets
- Make you smile
- They always cheer you up
- Being able to pet and stroke them
- They are very loyal
- Being greeted upon returning home
- Their unwavering love for you
- Relaxing together e.g. watching TV together
- Playing with them every day
- Unbridled affection
- Enjoying daily walks with them
- Helping you switch off
- Provide you with a routine
- Help to keep you fit
- They motivate you
- Make you feel safe
- Help get you up in the morning
- They understand you
- You can confide in them
- Act as a great listener