Owning a pet is a privilege. They are not merely an accessory that you bring home on a whim. They need love and attention, they need structure and training and above all, they need space. So for all intents and purposes, they are furry four-legged members of the family that you need to build a relationship with.
Although not everybody has the ability or the means to own a pet, chances are we all know someone that does. There are many benefits that come with owning a pet. Studies have shown that pets improve our physical, mental and emotional health.
From a health perspective, owning a pet will help prevent allergies. For children growing up with a pet in the house, the likelihood of developing related allergies is decreased by up to 33%. They also build stronger immune systems and tend to be healthier overall. Adults living with allergies may need to medicate once an animal is brought into the home for the first time. Your allergies may become less severe over time, but the chances of it dissipating entirely are slim. It has also been shown that owning a pet can slow your heart rate down due to lowered stress levels, which in turn, leads to decreased blood pressure and cholesterol levels. The presence of a pet can also speed up the rate of recovery after an illness or medical procedure. And let’s not forget the fitness benefits, as pet owners tend to be a little more active, especially those with dogs. Jogging, walking or even throwing a ball can do wonders for burning some extra calories while having fun with your four-legged friend.
From an emotional perspective, owning a pet teaches a level of responsibility and helps strengthen certain social skills. This is important for children and adults alike. We are never too old to make new connections with others and owning a pet is a great conversation starter, especially with fellow pet owners. It’s easy to connect with people who people who own pets, the most accessible way being online forums and websites. Dog owners can also connect by joining behavioural or training classes, dog-friendly restaurants and cafés or even visiting the local dog park.
From a mental perspective, pets are amazing companions that counteract feelings of depression and loneliness. It is said that pets love you more than you love yourself and it’s quite apparent in the level of devotion they show. They offer us a sense of purpose, someone to care for other than ourselves. This helps lift our moods, a fact that makes pet therapy so successful with individuals as well as within groups.
Animals are not only taken into the home as a pet. There are a number of working animals (referred to as service animals) that are trained to aid owners with certain conditions or disabilities and offer companionship as well. The bond between the owner and animal usually runs a bit deeper, as they tend to rely on the animal more than anyone else. Common examples include, seeing-eye dogs for the blind and seizure alert dogs that warn the owner before an epileptic episode. Dogs are usually trained for these roles, but it is not uncommon to have a miniature horse or even a monkey fulfilling the role of a service animal.
All in all, pets are good for you. They are extremely cute and cuddly and provide endless entertainment. Remember to do the necessary research before choosing the right pet for you and your family.