Most people enjoy animals and pets, but few realize the positive impact they have on our lives. Dogs, cats, birds, fish, and even reptiles can inspire exercise, relieve stress, and help people with disabilities and mental health issues like anxiety and depression.
Many pets are bred in captivity for the purpose of being sold or given as gifts. These animals are often violently ripped from their natural habitats, put on long flights across the country or the world, and then forced to live in cramped cages, denied proper food, water, space, and veterinary care. They may become sick and die because their human owners lack the knowledge and ability to meet their specialized needs.
Pets provide many benefits to their humans, from providing structure and routine with their feeding and exercising schedule to offering sensory stress relief. Stroking a cat or dog helps lower blood pressure and promotes calmness, while playing with a pet stimulates movement, helping relieve anxiety.
Having a pet can be a good way to teach children responsibility and compassion. Kids can practice caring for a pet and are often motivated by the unconditional love they receive in return. They learn to respect their pet’s personal space and time when they are eating or sleeping, and can develop a sense of responsibility by taking care of their furry friend’s daily needs. They also learn to understand and accept loss when a pet passes away, which helps develop empathy for others.
For older adults and those living alone, pets can provide a source of companionship. A study found that those who own pets have lower levels of loneliness than those without pets. Pets offer a stable relationship during times of transition or when people are dealing with stress in their lives, such as during divorce, the death of a loved one, moving to a new home, or working on a difficult project at work.
Besides dogs and cats, people commonly keep rabbits; ferrets; hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs; and birds (like parrots, cockatiels, and doves). Other popular pets include frogs; salamanders and tarantulas; freshwater and saltwater fish; and reptiles such as snakes and lizards.
People who own pets often create friendships with other pet owners, especially if they have the same species of animal. For example, a group of bird enthusiasts may gather to share information about their pets and talk about their experiences with other members of the online community. Pet owners are also more likely to be social lubricants when they have their dogs out on walks or at a dog park, and may even find themselves dating other pet owners!
However, before you get a pet, make sure you are ready for the commitment. It is important to consider if you are ready for the extra responsibility of caring for an animal and whether it will be the best option for your family’s lifestyle. If you have children, make sure your children understand that a pet will be an important part of their life and they must be prepared to care for it as long as they own it.