Owning a pet means additional responsibility for everyone in the family, not to mention the costs included. Asking fellow family members to take turns in walking the dog or cleaning out a litter box can mean World War III for families. Additionally, veterinarian visits, vaccination shots, and pet food don’t come cheap. So why in the first place would people keep pets, some even multiple pets, at home? Science has defended this decision as they come up with healthy benefits in keeping animals as pets.
When people come home after a tired day at work, seeing their enthusiastic pets always help relieve their stress. No matter how bad or terrible the day is, a pet can always wash the troubles away as they shower you with their affection and love. In fact, some studies have shown that people were more relaxed when they were with their pets rather than being with their family members, spouses, or close friends.
Since pets can reduce anxiety, they have been known to help chronic pain like arthritis or migraine. Since there is lesser anxiety, you won’t be able to focus on pain and redirect your attention on something else. Studies have even shown that people with pets who were recovering from medical procedures or surgeries required lesser pain medication than people who didn’t own pets.
Taking your pet out for a walk might seem like a chore, but it can also be a golden opportunity for you to meet other people. Pets can approach other people instinctively, sparking conversations without much effort from your side. If things get awkward, pets can also make good icebreakers even if you’re just bringing them with you or if they’re the topic of your conversation.
Of course, having pets just for this reason isn’t a very good idea. Always keep in mind that pets need to be maintained 24 hours a day. As we mentioned, they can be an expensive investment, so don’t think that you can take care of a pet with a half-hearted attitude.
Dogs can be a very good motivating factor when you want to lose or maintain weight. When you take them out on walks, it will require more effort whether you’re tugging on the leash or trying to keep up with them. Even if you’re out for a jog, it feels nice jogging with someone, even if it’s your pet. You’ll be able to run longer and they will motivate you to go further. Keep in mind that when you do these physically rigorous activities, you’ll need to do these almost on a daily basis.
One major factor why there are many physical benefits is because of the mental and emotional benefits you get when you own pets. Though pets can be troublesome a lot of times, it also means that you’ll never have a dull moment when they’re around. When you come home from work, your pets are always there to greet you and fawn over you like you’re a celebrity. This always brings a smile to many people’s faces and their troubles just seem less important after that.
This is also the reason why pets are being used to treat people with traumatic disorders who have a hard time getting back into society. Having a pet can increase opportunities for socialization and since they have a responsibility (taking care of their pets), they stay positive. Since pets are also unable to communicate in our language, they don’t have to explain what happened to them and enable them to relive their dark memories.
There are studies that support the findings that pets can monitor people who have diabetes, heart conditions, or other diseases. Every time they sense that their owners are having trouble or is about to have problems, they change their behavior or try to get other people’s attention. This is because animals have acute senses compared to humans. They are able to notice the chemical changes happening in their owner’s body. Currently, dogs and different kinds of animals are being trained to provide aid with diabetics and other persons with diseases.
In line with this, dogs have been trained for people with specific special needs. These are:
- Diabetic alert dog – these dogs are trained to monitor their owner’s body for any minor chemical changes associated with a decrease in blood sugar. Even if it happens in the middle of the night, the dog will notify its owner by licking or barking.
- Seizure dogs – when their owner goes into a seizure, these dogs will alert others before coming back to their owners side and lie down next to him to prevent any injuries from the convulsions. As these dogs are trained over time, they could even develop the skill to notice seizures before it happens.
- Autism service dogs – help their owner by providing a sense of calm. They can even accompany children to school to help curb any outbursts. Autism dogs are also the interacting point wherein children can interact with other people, helping their social skills.
Constant exposure to pets can also prevent allergies and improve immunity. This holds especially true for children who have multiple pets at their home. The earlier they are exposed to pets, the stronger their immunity gets and they develop far fewer allergies later in their life. This is why kids who grew up on farms have far fewer or even no allergies.
If you’re already an adult and you want to develop allergies, getting a pet won’t do you any good. Your immunity is already developed and pets can’t do anything about that. This factor is beneficial only for children who are still in their developing stages.
Speaking of children and pets, keeping pets in your household with children will help them in a lot of ways. If a child grows up close to a pet (like a dog or a cat), they find new and interesting ways to express themselves. This leads to a huge boost in emotional development and it also allows them to relate with others better.
For children suffering from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or autism, pets can help them cope with it. When children with ADHD have to take care of a pet, they need to focus on different tasks and they will also have responsibilities through a routine. For autistic children, just the experience of holding and petting an animal can be a soothing sensory experience for them.
The benefits of keeping animals as pets extend from the emotional aspect and into physical and social areas. They can take care of their owner during times of emotional distress and aid in a speedy physical recovery. Though they might seem like an unnecessary investment for others, pets definitely make up for it with their genuine concern and love for their owners.