Pets are loved, and often cherished, by millions of people worldwide. Many of these pets have become part of the family, and their owners have a strong bond with them. While owning a pet requires significant responsibility, it has also been shown to improve the health and happiness of those who have them.
A pet is any animal that is kept primarily for companionship, and not as a working animal, livestock or laboratory animal. Among the animals most commonly kept as pets are cats, dogs and other mammals; fish and other aquatic pets; reptiles (turtles, lizards, snakes); birds; and small insects, such as ants, bees and butterflies.
The human-animal connection is very strong, and this has been well documented in numerous studies. In addition to providing a sense of security and love, pets have been shown to increase socialization in their owners and reduce depression, anxiety and stress. In fact, petting an animal increases the levels of oxytocin and endorphins in the brain, which help promote relaxation and reduce blood pressure. These effects can last up to a half hour after petting is completed.
Children, especially those with developmental challenges such as autism, benefit from pets because they can form a strong emotional attachment to them. Kids who feel important to their pets, such as a dog, tend to have higher self-esteem and have greater social skills. They also learn to communicate non-verbally with their pets, which helps them develop and practice their own communication skills.
Pets provide a good source of exercise for their owners. Walking, playing and running with a dog, for example, is an excellent form of exercise. It can also improve the owner’s mood and immune system by lowering blood pressure, reducing heart disease risk factors and easing depression symptoms.
People with pets have also been shown to have lower blood pressure and heart rates, and use less pain medication after surgery. However, some pets can carry germs that could make people sick. It is therefore important to understand what kinds of germs a particular pet can spread and what precautions should be taken to prevent these germs from being transferred to humans. This information can be found on the specific pages for each type of pet. Pets are a wonderful addition to most families, but it is essential to carefully consider the responsibilities involved before making the commitment. Be sure that you and all members of the household are prepared to handle the physical, emotional and financial costs of having a pet before getting one. This will ensure the long-term success of your relationship with your pet and the health and wellbeing of your family. It is also a good idea to have a backup plan for when your pet becomes sick or you are unable to care for it for any reason. This should include finding a reputable pet sitter, or asking for help from friends and family. This will avoid having to take your pet to the veterinarian for treatment, which can be expensive and stressful for both you and your pet.