All pet owners will tell you that their relationship with their pets is special; some will even say they get on with their pets better than they do with most people. Pets are funny, affectionate and loving. Most of us treat them as a part of the family, my own cat is treated much more like the favoured younger sibling than as a pet, but they can also give us a whole host of other benefits that you may not even be aware of. There are many scientific studies that are looking into the hidden benefits of owning a pet, be it a cat, dog, rabbit or even a goldfish.
These studies have shown that:
1. People who own pets were less likely to visit the doctors
2. Pets provide as much social support for their owners as other people do
3. Owning a pet may increase survival rates in those recovering from heart attacks
Other benefits that have also been seen in pet owners include lower blood pressure, cholesterol and an increase in the chemicals in the body that help you to relax.
Owning a pet can also lead to a more active lifestyle which will benefit general health and fitness of the owner. Walking a dog or riding a horse are obviously very energetic activities but for those who are unable to get out and about even playing with a kitten can be quite tiring! In addition to the physical benefits that owning a pet can provide there are many that can help in improving your state of mind and well-being. If you are retired or out of work you can sometimes feel at a loss with what to do with all of your spare time. Owning a pet can bring structure and help to develop a daily routine as well as helping you get motivated. Your pet could also help to expand your circle of human friends. By walking your dog, going to the stables, taking training classes or even visiting your local pet store you are more likely to meet like-minded people with which you may form friendships.
For children growing up around a pet is like having a four-legged best friend! By learning how to interact with a pet properly children learn important social skills that will benefit them as they grow. It will also teach them to be responsible. By allowing your child to help you to care for a pet you are teaching them how to look after another life properly. Getting children to help train an animal can also teach them about the importance of perseverance and can be as rewarding for them as it is for their pet.
Being a pet owner is a fulfilling and rewarding experience. Pet owners tend to be happier, healthier and less stressed but it is important to remember that pets can be expensive and require a lot of time and attention. You should only consider getting a pet if you can fully meet its needs. Whilst there is evidence to suggest they reduce stress and depression, they are not a miracle cure and owning a pet isn’t for everyone.
If you don’t feel like you are able to look after a pet full time why not volunteer at an animal shelter where you can get all the cuddles, wags and licks you could ever need. Maybe you could help an elderly neighbour walk their dog or take their pet to the vets. Not only will you feel the benefits of being neighbourly but you may allow that person to keep their companion a while longer.