Whether they’re cats, dogs, or snakes, pets bring us companionship and unconditional love. They also add to our overall health, as studies suggest that people who own pets are healthier and happier than those without. They can help reduce stress and depression, improve our moods, encourage exercise and playfulness, ease loneliness, boost our immune system, and provide a sense of belonging and security.
It’s not all fun and games, though; owning a pet can be hard work. Animals need food, water, shelter, and lots of attention. And, like humans, they need to get plenty of physical activity to stay healthy. Fortunately, most pets will make you get up and moving: walking, playing with, and grooming them all count as great forms of exercise!
Pets can be an excellent way to teach children about responsibility. Even a small, caged pet (like a hamster or guinea pig) can help kids learn to care for another creature. They’ll develop nurturing and empathy skills that will benefit them throughout their lives. And, as they grow older, they’ll be able to recall the early years of their relationship with a beloved animal and take those lessons into the real world.
Most people think of dogs and cats as pets, but any animal can be a pet if we decide to give it a name and treat it as our own. Keeping pets is a long-standing human tradition, dating back to the very beginning of domestication. These early animals served economic and social ends by catching game or bringing back furs to their owners for clothing. Later, they helped to keep burglars away by alerting the household to their presence.
Today, we have a variety of pets, from horses to rabbits to fish. Some of them are used as therapy animals for blind, diabetic, and mental health patients. And, of course, many people own them simply for their enjoyment. Stroking a cat or dog, or watching a fish swim in its aquarium, is a wonderful way to lower blood pressure and reduce anxiety.
It’s important to choose the right pet for you. Be honest with yourself about your lifestyle and make sure that you’re ready for the responsibility of caring for a pet. If you’re not, you could do a lot more harm than good to your pet and the other members of your family. And remember that, just like us, pets need to be active, and they need to have regular checkups with the vet. So, before you bring home a new pet, make sure your family understands what’s involved in caring for that animal and can commit to it. And, always keep your pet’s safety in mind: Cover sharp corners on furniture, block off stairs, cover electrical wires, and be observant of your pet’s body language to ensure that they enjoy the activities you’re asking them to participate in. The more they enjoy themselves, the more likely they are to become part of your family.