Animals have a way of bringing joy into our lives and making us smile, no matter your age. About half of the households in the U.S. are pet owners.
While you may have good intentions when giving a pet to someone as a gift, it’s a big commitment and responsibility. Training, particularly for dogs, is important to bring out the best in them. They interpret our behavior, understand our energy, and will respond to that energy.
My brother, sister, and I were exposed to many different animals growing up because our dad was a very curious science teacher. Our pets included a rabbit, bird, iguana, black snake, and baby alligator. I was not a fan of the amphibians. The black snake escaped from its cage and slipped into a floor AC vent, never to be seen again. I have no idea why or where my dad even found the baby alligator, but my mom made him give it away immediately.
Now I have two large dogs and two cats. My pets are a blessing most days, and we’re fortunate not to worry about costs or time commitments.
There are many proven health benefits of having a pet, including physical, mental, and emotional benefits. In my opinion, these benefits outweigh any negatives.
My fellow animal lovers will agree with the following five reasons to open your home to a furry friend (or any type of pet), and why doing so can be just what the doctor ordered. A pet can be your:
Dogs must have exercise on a daily basis. A fenced yard is not enough. You can take them walking, hiking, jogging, swimming, and even along for a bike ride. Cats need movement through interactive play if they are kept indoors. Movement is healthy for both you and your pet.
Petting an animal has a calming effect and decreases your cortisol level (stress hormone). Pets fill your heart with love and provide a number of health benefits. According to the CDC, pets can boost immunity and help reduce the risk of a heart attack, lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.
Sense of purpose
You will establish an emotional bond with your pet like a family member. Taking care of pets does require responsibility and that can give you a sense of value and importance. It also adds a positive focus to your life. Allowing your children to help take care of your family’s pets is great way to teach them about empathy and responsibility.
Pets offer unconditional love which can help reduce loneliness and boost your overall mood. Animal-assisted therapy is very popular with nursing homes and hospitals. When I was young, I brought my dog to a nursing home near our neighborhood so the residents could pet her. She made them smile. While my dog wasn’t officially certified, the staff allowed us to volunteer our time and companionship anyway.
Pets are social facilitators. They provide common ground to interact with others and help develop friendships. One of my dogs is a Great Pyrenees and she’s a rock star when we take her out in public. People come up to us to ask questions, pet her, hug her, and even take pictures with her.
Remember, animals don’t care about what you have or what you look like. They accept you for who you are. What’s not to love about that?
This Week's Articles Read, learn, live
- Back to school shopping: It’s OK to say “No” to your kids
- Family leadership: Becoming a successful and effective parent leader
- How to discuss Alzheimer’s and dementia with your children
- Parenting: 3 Things that matter more than discipline
- Parenting your children to own their place in the world
- Make your marriage a priority and your kids benefit