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Pets and the Benefits They Offer

April 04, 2020

Pets and the Benefits They Offer

History has provided a long account of humans enjoying the company of animals. At times, animals have served as valuable resources to accomplish tasks like farming or transportation. Nowadays, the roles of animals have changed and many are commonly housed and cared for as pets.

Some people prefer cats and others prefer dogs. There are some people who also choose reptiles, amphibians, fish, rodents, or spiders. Still others prefer horses, pigs, or birds. Perhaps a pet is chosen based on a person’s lifestyle or personality, but there are some themes that ring true for why a person chooses to have a pet…and many benefits that arise from doing so.

Health Benefits

There have been numerous studies done to show what effect pets have on humans. While there is limited knowledge in explaining exactly how this happens, statistics are showing the following benefits:

  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Decreased cholesterol and triglyceride levels
  • Decreased feelings of loneliness
  • Increased chance of physical, outdoor activity
  • Increased chances for socializing
  • Improved quality of life

Other health benefits of consistent exposure to pets that have some strong science behind them include

  • Decreased chance of developing animal allergies
  • Increased emotional awareness
  • Decreased stress, anxiety, and depression

It is important to consider that there is a difference in the type of pet and the above outcomes. For example, dog owners specifically have a higher likelihood to be more physically active.

Developmental Benefits for Youth

Research has shown that animals are also beneficial for youth. Early exposure to animals might contribute to decreased chances of developing animal allergies, and increased emotional awareness. Many kids also have stated that their pets are their best friends, or are a great source of comfort to them when they are upset. Participating in the care of having a pet can also help to teach responsibility and care for other living things, which can boost a child’s social and emotional intelligence, as well as their work ethic.

Emotional Benefits

Being around animals has many emotional advantages. Pet owners report less stress and a higher quality of life than non-pet owners. Many people report that the unconditional love that pets offer is very healing and comforting. Having the right pet can also help to give you a sense of purpose, which will fuel your sense of self and motivation. For those with mental health concerns, such as Anxiety, Depression, or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, having an animal around can provide a dramatic enhancement in wellness efforts. Trained service animals are utilized to help people with a variety of conditions such as blindness, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and PTSD. These animals are valuable companions for their owners.

There are many Animal Assisted Therapies that are making a difference in people’s lives, as well. Hospitals across the country have started to allow dogs and cats to visit patients, asserting that it increases morale and recovery. Mental health care is also being revolutionized as some counselors are incorporating time and activities working with animals into sessions for their clients. Dogs and horses are common choices for this type of therapy and help to add an active and experiential component that aids in treatment.

Stress and Animals

Taking care of an animal is a commitment. Once you own a pet, you are responsible for providing appropriate shelter, food, medical care, training, and exercise. However, for all of the burdens that owning a pet can add, one of the main reports of pet-owners is that having a pet decreases the total amount of stress in their lives.

Finding the Right Pet for You

How do you know what pet will be right for you? Here are some questions that can help you to narrow down the list to the ideal pet for your lifestyle.

  • What is your schedule like?
    • For example, are you away from home for long periods time? Are you a morning or evening person?
  • Do you travel often?
    • Some animals can be left alone more easily than others, so you will want to be prepared to have someone watch your pet or have it taken care of at another location.
  • Where are you living?
    • Some rentals have rules about what animals are allowed.
    • You want to consider having enough space and a home that can maintain the right equipment for your pet.
  • Can you afford a pet?
    • Keep in mind that some expenses are unexpected.
  • What experience do you have with animals?
    • If owning a pet will be a new experience for you, make sure you do some research about training, equipment, and any other information that can be helpful.

Speaking with your family and friends can be very helpful as they might have suggestions or tips for you. Doing research online and by reading books is also essential. Many times, you can find local places where you can adopt a pet and meet it before you bring it home. Try contacting your local Humane Society, animal shelter, or other rescue organizations. You can also start your search online at websites like petfinder.com – a directory of adoptable pets from shelters and rescue organizations nationwide. It is recommended to do some research to make sure you are adopting from a humane source, so consult with the American Kennel Club to find reputable breeders, and make sure to check out breed rescue organizations. If you are not in the position to own a pet right now, you might want to consider volunteering or working at a local shelter, barn, or other location where you can work with animals. That way you can still get some of the benefits until you are able to have a pet of your very own.

 

Want to talk to a counselor today about this? 

Call Amplified Life at 800-453-7733 and ask for your “Free 15 Minute Phone Consultation" with one of our licensed counselors. We’ll listen, answer questions you may have, and help you plan next steps.

 

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