To some, a pet can seem like an extra mouth to feed and care for, increasing stress levels and adding to responsibilities. Whereas the above can be true – you do have to take the time to look after your pet – they can, in fact, fill a space in your heart that you never knew was empty beforehand. Pets, whether it’s a rabbit, cat or dog, can increase mental health and physical activity, as well as offering companionship. There are many unexpected benefits of adopting a pet, all you have to do is realise that the good far outweighs the bad. Here’s why it’s important to consider a pet thoroughly, and how it can improve your family’s lifestyle.
Companionship for all Family Members
As you transition into adulthood, you’re more than likely trying to start a career, rent or save for a house and focus on making a name for yourself. However, it can be easy to forget how to socialise, and sometimes in adulthood, you’re too exhausted to go out after a long day’s work. Therefore, a pet can stop you from coming home to an empty house as you’re greeted by wagging tails or purring felines. Although they cannot fully replace friends and family, they are enough to impact your life and become reputable companions. In fact, you may even realise that you’d rather spend Friday in, cuddling your cat, rather than out drinking like before.
If you’re someone who doesn’t enjoy being alone, then pets can be great companionships that’ll often depend on you as much as you depend on them. Pets are often intuitive, therefore, they know when you’re feeling low, and both cats and dogs have been found to seek you out and comfort you in times of need. Also, if you have a child who suffers from depression or who often feels lonely, allowing them to have their own pet can offer them the companionship and best friend they may be missing.
Adopting a pet means added responsibility. However, this doesn’t have to mean added stress for you and the rest of your family. If your family is busy, for example, then a cat may be more practical than a dog which is less independent. Therefore, discuss practicality with your family before you head to an animal shelter or equivalent, and fall madly in love with an animal that’s not ideal to your situation. Questions you need to answer are ‘do I have the space for a pet, will my job allow me to care for it properly, and are there local amenities such as a 24 hour vet clinic to help me?’
Do not think added responsibility is bad, though, as there are many positives. For example, allowing your child or teenager to have a pet means they are responsible for the upkeep. This is a highly valued skill and trait you’ll want your child to learn, and by letting them have a cat or dog, they’ll be in charge of feeding, grooming, caring for and booking appointments for and taking them to the Village Vet.
Help Lessen Allergies and Build Immunity
Children who grow up in a household with a pet are less likely to develop allergies. The reason behind this is because your body, as it grows, becomes used to the environment it’s living in; therefore, they can help build your children’s immunity. This can be as effective as lessening your child’s susceptibility to dust by teaching your child’s body to be less allergic to cats in general.
Mental Health and the Reduction of Negativity
If you struggle with mental health issues or a member of your family does, then bringing a pet into the household can work wonders. For example, if you have a dog, then they will encourage you to get outside and move with daily dog walks. Fresh air and sunshine can help reduce any anxiety and stress that’s built up throughout the day; therefore, if you’re your partner or children suffer from depression and anxiety, having a reason to get up and go outside can work wonders for their serotonin levels.
Additionally, the act of petting your cat or dog can not only be comforting to them, but it can aid your mental wellbeing, too. Rhythmic grooming or petting can reduce a person’s stress levels; this is because when you connect with your pet, the hormone oxytocin is released which is related to stress and anxiety relief. Therefore, this is why after a hard day’s work or if you’re feeling down, you naturally gravitate towards your pet for comfort.
Taking your dog (or cat) out for a daily walk can greatly improve your physical health. Head outside and feel the benefits of fresh air and a brisk walk. Alternatively, if you enjoy a morning run, take your dog along for the company, and on weekends, have your child (if they’re old enough) take their favourite canine to the local park where they can engage in activities such as fetch, catch and Frisbee. Not only can this improve your cardio and be great for losing weight, but it can also lower your blood pressure and cholesterol, while promoting an active lifestyle to your children.
Increased Life Expectancy
Scientists have stated that owning a dog can increase your life expectancy in addition to lowering cardiovascular disease and speeding the recovery process from heart attacks. Of course, the findings depend on other circumstances, and this may not be the case for everyone, but this increased life expectancy seems to be because of an incredibly strong immune system, mentioned previously.
Cats Can Improve the Kindness of Your Child (and Yourself)
While dogs can endure rough handling and play, cats need a gentler approach. Therefore, you and your children are forced to handle your cat more gently, and become kinder and softer with your actions. If you child learns from a young age that being kind and gentle means you get affection and attention in return, then they’ll grow up with this notion and hopefully apply it to their day to day life as they grow up.
Owning a pet does, of course, mean added responsibility. However, the benefits are far more than the negatives. With many people considering pets as a family member, the bonds adults and children create with their animals can be incredibly rewarding and important to the quality of their life. There are many unexpected positives to having a pet, so make sure you thoroughly how a cat, dog, or any other animal, could enhance your household and lifestyle.