There are many benefits to owning a pet. Most of us enjoy having a creature to care for; they give us company, unconditional affection, and in some cases entertain us with their cute antics. A pet can bring a family together, and make a single person less alone. However, there are also some less obvious benefits to owning a pet, as will be seen below.
Of course, different kinds of pet bring different benefits. Dogs and cats both have quite different characteristics, and especially in the case of dogs, even different breeds can bring different qualities to the relationship. For instance, a German Shepherd may make a great guard dog, but you couldn’t necessarily say the same about a Chihuahua.
Hamsters, gerbils, rabbits, fish, and pot-bellied pigs all similarly have different qualities that make us want to have them as pets, not to mention birds, snakes, reptiles, and even more exotic breeds. Our choice of pet reflects our personality, and also our living situation. How much space do we have, and how much time can we devote to pet care? Whatever kind of pet we choose, we may find that there are even more advantages and benefits than we initially expected.
Reducing stress levels
It’s not that unexpected to find that owning a pet brings comfort and reassurance to our lives. However, beyond that, there’s also a scientific basis to say that pets of all kinds can actively reduce our stress levels. Studies show that spending time with our pets increases our levels of the oxytocin hormone, increasing feelings of security and wellbeing. At the same time, the levels of stress hormone cortisol decrease, and lower stress levels, in turn, mean lower blood pressure, reducing our risk of heart disease.
Oxytocin, as mentioned above, is released in the body during pregnancy and helps us to bond with our babies. To a certain degree, it gives us a similar bond with our pets. This helps us to develop empathy and teaches us about love and trust, lessons that are especially valuable for young children, who can learn what it means to care as well as being cared for.
Teaching us about death
It may seem hard to see how losing a pet can be a benefit, but death is a part of life, and for many of us, the death of a pet is our first experience of losing a loved one. For children especially, coping with the death of a pet can be a valuable learning experience that will help them to grow and come to terms with the passing of family members later in life. Pet cremation services allow us to formally say goodbye to our pets so that we can remember them in our own ways.
Getting us out of the house
There are many ways that our pets can help us to stay healthy. Dogs and other animals that require regular exercise force us to exercise. This, in turn, helps us to meet other people. A pet is a great conversation starter and is a great way to break the ice with strangers.
Improving the mind
Owning any kind of pet can reduce social isolation and improve our mental health, helping us to avoid depression and giving us a reason to stay fit and healthy so that we can take care of them. Studies suggest that people with pets don’t just lead happier lives, but also live for longer. Pet ownership may also reduce the risk of senior illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Dogs can actually sniff out malignant cancers with their powerful sense of smell, and in many cases have saved the life of their owner by acting as an early warning system. Any kind of pet can also help to lower your cancer risk by encouraging you to quit smoking; many people have said that they stopped because they didn’t want their pets to have to breathe in their second-hand smoke.
Boosting immune systems
Ownership of common pets such as cats and dogs can reduce our risk of allergies as we build up a tolerance to the allergens produced by our furry friends. For the same reasons, children that grew up with a cat or dog may be at lower risk of developing asthma. Pets carry a variety of germs that are generally harmless to humans but that can still help to build up our immune systems and boost our resistance, like a cuddly vaccination.
There are as many potential benefits to pet ownership as there are types of pet to choose from. Sharing your life with an animal friend may enrich it in ways that you’d never previously considered.