Why do people have pets? What makes people take up something that limits their freedom, changes their lifestyle and causes a lot of mess? For some just seeing a wagging tail when they come home from work or being able to cuddle with a purring ball of fur sounds like a reward significant enough to introduce a four-legged member into their family. Yet if you need more factors to outweigh the fuss that one has to face when having a pet at home, here is the list of scientifically proven benefits that human-animal bond gives pet owners. Having a pet has a huge positive impact on a person’s life at so many levels.
Decrease the risk of heart attack and stroke
As surprising as it sounds, simply petting your furry friend can potentially normalize your heart rate and decrease blood pressure. This can be of high importance to people with hypertension and those at high risk of a heart attack or a stroke. Moreover, the patients that have already experienced a stroke or a heart attack are showing quicker recovery rates in the pet-present conditions.
Have a positive effect on kids’ immune system
Being exposed to pets in early childhood can improve immunity and minimize allergies. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work for grown-ups, especially for those who are already suffering from allergies, as the age really matters in this situation. However, the fact that having a pet can reduce the risk of allergic sensitization to multiple allergens in a child is a really good news for families with kids.
Combat stress, anxiety, depression and even… physical pain!
A big part of positive effect on physical health of a pet owner has roots in the emotional and mental stimuli a pet provides. First of all, pet owners laugh more. Being a fun activity, interaction with pets is able to increase the level of oxytocin, dopamine, serotonin and endorphins, which are natural feel-good substances. This makes it easier for people with pets at home to overcome depressions and combat stress.
Endorphins help relieve pain. This, combined with the fact that pets are a positive distraction that can shift your focus from chronic pain, makes pets great pain-killers.
Contribute to emotional development of children
Kids growing up in families with pets benefit emotionally in so many ways! Learning to care, to feel empathy, to be responsible and to form strong emotional bonds boosts kids’ emotional and cognitive development like nothing else in the world.
Children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) may find it easier to focus because of the predictable routine that having a pet presupposes. Kids with autism can benefit from interacting with animals too, as pets help them be more sociable. Note, however, that in such cases it is very important to consider a child’s individual sensitivities.
Give you the feeling of social fulfillment
Pets provide companionship, helping people feel less lonely. This is especially important for the elderly, who may often feel cut off from social life. What’s more, furry friends can act as amazing icebreakers and help their owners connect with other people by providing a rich topic of conversation.
Add to that a sense of fulfillment and purpose, as well as a sense of pride in helping an animal in need (when we talk about rescue pets) and you will get an unbeatable combo of social benefits.
Show you unconditional love every day
You have to face it, your pet loves you more than anyone in the world, no matter what. The uniqueness of human-animal bond lies in how non-judgemental and accepting animals are. For your pet you are and always will be a superstar.
With all the joys a pet brings to you life come responsibilities. You are making a decision to take care of a living being and that’s a big thing. So you need to consider a number of factors before making the commitment of bringing home a new companion.
Having a pet leads to extra expenses on a monthly basis. It isn’t just the adoption fee or the amount you pay to the breeder. You will need to buy food, toys, take your pet to regular visits to the vet. Some of the dog breeds will require regular grooming, which can be quite costly. Obviously, the costs involved will vary depending on the pet you have. It’s an important aspect to assess before deciding whether you are ready for an addition to your family, or at least for the type and breed you pick.
As it has been mentioned already, having a pet as a child can minimize the risk of developing allergies later in life. But what if you already are allergic to cats and dogs?
Running nose, sneezing, difficulty breathing, red eyes and that’s only the top of the iceberg. Pets produce a number of allergens and while the majority of people have never experienced the discomfort of mere pet’s presence, for those who face it such condition can become a constant ordeal. You can always run the necessary health checks before getting a fluffy buddy to join you. Finding out that you can’t coexist without you constantly feeling under the weather will turn out even more stressful as you get attached.
There are treatments for allergies, including nasal sprays and oral medication, as well as allergy shots. Still, the majority of doctors will advise you to stay away from the source of allergens. Not an easy task living under one roof, right? Moreover, consulting an allergist to determine the treatment would also mean medical bills to be paid. Bearing this in mind, do as much as you can before you become a proud dog-mom or cat-dad. Unfortunately, there are no allergy-free breeds of cats and dogs, but if your symptoms are mild and you are really determined, you can consider getting breeds with a reputation for being hypoallergenic, like poodles or Russian Blue cats.
You are going to have less free time, as there’s someone who loves you a lot and depends on you completely waiting for you at home. This means hanging out with friends less, unless they are happy to share your pet’s company.
Feeding, walking, playing will now become your priority, their interests will most of the time be above yours. They just can’t do it all on their own.
Busy work schedule with long working hours? Or a time-poor life of a parent to wonderful active kids? Weigh up if you can dedicate enough time to a pet. Even a goldfish needs your company. Pets that lack your attention can become depressed and get ill. Your pets cannot be ignored, the quality of their life depends on the quality of time you spend together.
Some pet owners complain of not having much freedom and feeling housebound. When you plan a weekend away, a business trip or your holidays abroad you’ll have to make the arrangements for someone to take care of your pet while you are away. If your job requires travelling a lot and being away for a couple of days every fortnight is a habit of yours, you better have someone reliable who can be a regular pet-sitter. There’s also an option of professional pet-care services for your fluffy friends, be it a cat or a dog.
When you plan to get a pet, you should take your living arrangements into account. Will your landlord be fine with it, if you are renting? Do you have enough space and can you provide a dependable accommodation? For indoor cats, for example, a settled place is a must, as they do not adapt well to changes in surrounding.
You should be ready to make some changes to your home so that it’s safe for your pet. They view your house as their territory and everything they can reach as their potential toys. What’s more, it’s highly possible that your new addition to the family can cause damage to the furniture and wallpaper, leaving scratches or chewing on your belongings, which is puppies’ notorious pastime. It can be a good idea to invest in pet-friendly furniture.
They make house a home, though. Even with some claw marks on your favourite armchair.
Pets are often allowed to roam around the house where it pleases them, leaving hair and germs wherever they go. Some may play or sleep on your bed if you don’t set the limits. You can be fine with it, of course. But there are places in your house, like kitchen or a table or nursery that you would prefer to keep as clean as possible.
If you let your pet outside, there are chances of infections and parasites brought back to your home. Consult your vet on the products to use to protect your pets from fleas, ticks and other pests.
In order to keep you home germ and dirt free, you should be prepared to:
It’s like taking up a new job, you might not have the experience yet, but the question is are you ready to do what it takes to get it?
To make your pet happy you’ll have to understand their behaviour and how to take care of them. It will require some research, talking to the vet and learning all the time. For dogs, training is extremely important and you should find some time in your schedule.
Having a pet can be an incredibly rewarding experience. They will give you back their love and devotion in return for your time and care. If you see yourself ready and you are fine with all the adjustments to your life it will lead to, just do it. Get the friend you’ve always been dreaming of!