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Pets 'can help with long-term mental health issues'
Sixty per cent placed their pets in the central 'most important' circle.
Study finds pets play a range of positive roles in their owners' lives

New research published in BMC Psychiatry suggests pets can help their owners with the management of long-term mental health conditions.

Researchers from the University of Manchester interviewed 54 adults under the care of community-based mental health services, who had been diagnosed with severe mental illnesses. The participants were asked to rate the importance of, for example, their family, friends, pets, healthcare professionals and hobbies.

Factors were rated by placing them in one of three concentric circles - the central one being the most important, the middle being of secondary importance and the outer circle of lesser importance.

Sixty per cent placed their pets in the central 'most important' circle, while 20 per cent put them in the middle circle.

The consistent presence and close physical proximity of pets was described as an immediate source of calm and therapeutic benefits to owners. Participants felt their pets played a range of positive roles, including distracting them from their symptoms and helping them to manage the stigma associated with mental health issues by providing acceptance without judgement.

Pets were also considered valuable in times of crisis, giving unconditional support that people were often not receiving from their family or social relationships.

Despite these benefits, pets were not considered or incorporated in any of the participants' individual care plans.

Lead author Dr Helen Brooks said: "These insights provide the mental health community with possible areas to target intervention and potential ways in which to better involve people in their own mental health service provision through open discussion of what works best for them."

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Vets asked to opt-in to Scottish SPCA fostering programme

News Story 1
 The Scottish SPCA is encouraging veterinary practices to opt into its new fostering programme, by agreeing to register foster animals when approached by one of the foster carers.

The programme goes live in August 2021, and will help to rehabilitate animals under the Scottish SPCA's care until they are able to be properly re-homed. The programme will help the animals to receive care and attention in a stable and happy home environment, as some animals do not cope with a rescue and re-homing centre environment as well as others.

Specific information for veterinary practices on the new programme can be found at www.scottishspca.org/veterinarysurgeons 

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News Shorts
Webinar provides insight into old age pets

A new webinar providing insights into the BSAVA PetSavers Old Age Pets citizen science project is now available free of charge to its members via the BSAVA Library

The webinar presents an exclusive insight into the research process and progression of the study, which aims to help veterinary professionals and owners provide the best care for their senior dogs.

It also discusses the study's research methods, the researchers' personal interests in this area of study, and how they envisage the findings being used to create a guidance tool to improve discussions between vets and owners about their ageing dogs.