Petting your cat’s soft, warm fur after a long stressful day at work is the most heartwarming feeling. Having your dog jump for joy when you walk through the door is an experience like no other.
Watching your fish swim around the tank just feels so tranquil and relaxing. Truly, having a pet is one of the best things we humans can experience. The very first animal to be domesticated is widely known to be the dog, so, likely, dogs were also the first animals kept as pets.
The purpose for this was likely to be so that the dogs could help their owners hunt, as well as protecting them. Dogs were (and still are) naturally better at catching prey thank us humans, and had strong jaws with better capabilities for tracking when hunting.
Of course, as time has progressed, a whole variety of animals have been welcomed into the homes of humans, bringing endless joy to people all around the globe. From dogs and cats to turtles and tarantulas, the variety of pets that are kept by people is vibrant.
Sure, they aren’t typically used as protection or to help with hunting anymore – just imagine trying to get a cat up from the sofa to help you hunt! This begs the question of why? Why do we still keep pets if we don’t really need them? The answer to this is not a simple one.
In truth, there are many reasons why we keep pets, and they are not just because they are cute! Having a pet can benefit you, and your family in numerous ways. Yes, you read that right. Pets can actually benefit us.
“Why? …How?” We hear you ask… Well, folks, we are going to be answering those very questions right here in this article.
We have those answers right here for you so get comfortable, put your feet up, and keep on reading to learn about the benefits for the whole family of having a pet.
How Having A Pet Can Help With A Healthy Lifestyle
As you now know from the introduction, having a pet is super beneficial. The main way that having a pet can benefit you is by improving your lifestyle.
They can be an integral part of moving you towards a healthier lifestyle in any number of ways. Dogs, after all, are dubbed ‘man’s best friend’, and cats and other pets seem to have similar effects on their human companions.
The bonds between humans and animals have gone from strength to strength as time has gone by, and now they are even viewed as fully-fledged family members.
The term ‘furbaby’ is used to describe beloved pets, putting them in the same league as human children.
Looking at your dog, cat, or any other pet as your best friend is a great place to start thinking about the benefits that they can have on us. Just as human friends can prove to be a lifeline for us humans, our pets can do the same.
However, with pets, you get even more loyalty, plus you can pet them (we’re not sure our human friends would be too impressed if we tried to treat them like a dog!).
The way pets can boost our lifestyles and make them more healthy are innumerous. So much so that we have split them into their own sections. Read ahead to find out exactly how our furry friends can benefit us.
Companionship is something that all humans need.
It is thought that humans are at their best both emotionally and in terms of their health when we have good attachments formed with another.
Many people may interpret this to mean that the attachment needs to be formed with another human but that is not true.
An animal can make an excellent companion, too.
They can be super helpful in helping to stave off loneliness in people who live alone. Older people are particularly susceptible to loneliness and so they tend to gain a lot from pets in terms of companionship.
As well as this, companionship from a pet can also help to improve symptoms of depression that leave us feeling sad and lonely. Knowing you have company from your furry friend can be something that keeps you going, physically and mentally.
However sad you feel you will always want to be there for your pet and will gain comfort from their presence. Whilst they may depend on their humans for many things such as food, medicine, and care, we humans often depend on them too, and the unconditional love that they give us without question.
This unconditional love is what makes them so special. Whatever you do or say, your pet is always going to love you. You may have had the most horrible day at work and made lots of mistakes, so you arrive home feeling really down in the dumps.
However, as soon as you walk through that door, all your furry friend cares about is that you are home. They get cuddles and food and their favorite person in the world is there to spend time with them.
This sort of companionship and love is rarely seen from any other living thing, except our wonderful pets. The idea of unconditional love is something so key in our relationship with our pets that it must be expanded on in a later section.
However, it links closely with companionship, hence the need to discuss it now. Of course, just like humans, animals are all unique and have their own different personalities. For this reason, some animals are more inclined to becoming companions than others.
To help you find the best companion animal, we have decided to create a list of some of the best animal choices for anyone looking to find a furry companion:
- Guinea pig
As you can see, the list is endless, and we are sure you could think of more yourself. Some people have even found companionship in keeping farm animals as pets, such as pot-bellied pigs, chickens, and sheep.
These animals listed here are all thought to be the best choices for companion animals as they are friendly and are most likely to provide the unconditional love needed in a companion. As well as providing excellent levels of companionship, these very same animals can also help other aspects of our lifestyles.
Anxiety is a very common ailment for people all over the world.
As time goes on, people seem to be becoming more and more susceptible to anxiety and other similar mental health conditions.
Anxiety conditions can affect people in many different ways.
In fact, there are lots of different types of anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and anxiety caused by PTSD and other illnesses.
The symptom of it includes agoraphobia (the fear of being in public), panic attacks, depression, increased heart rate, rapid breathing, and restlessness.
This is by no means an exhaustive list and anxiety can rear its ugly head in many forms. One of the side effects of anxiety is increased loneliness as sufferers tend to separate themselves from the rest of society.
This is where companion pets can help. They can provide company for anxiety sufferers and also make them feel like they have a purpose.
Furthermore, it has been proved that having a dog or cat can actually help to bring on feelings of relaxation.
They can do this by decreasing blood pressure, reducing stress, decreasing your cholesterol levels, reducing your triglyceride levels, and even raising levels of serotonin in your body (this is the hormone that makes us happy!).
Touching, cuddling, or stroking your pet (or any animal for that matter) is often listed as one of the ways to instantly relieve anxiety, reduce stress, and calm your body.
It is immensely beneficial for you as it involves the physical act of touch and can be a great way to engage your senses when your brain is doing overtime worrying about other things.
Simply focussing on the act of petting your furry friend can be instantly calming, even more so when you consider the fact that you will be making your pet’s day too.
As well as this, some animals, namely dogs can be trained as service dogs. Usually, these are associated with people who are blind or hearing impaired as the dogs can act as a helping hand for them when they are out and about.
However, it is becoming increasingly common for service dogs to be trained up to help anxiety sufferers. These wonderful dogs can be trained to know the signs of an impending anxiety attack or panic attack, being there to provide a sense of calm and companionship when their human is experiencing it.
They can even be taught how to bring medicine to their human to help alleviate anxiety and panic attacks. This is especially helpful when you consider the fact that anxiety attacks can often be extremely physically debilitating, causing difficulty breathing and the inability to move when the attack is taking place.
Pets to reduce anxiety will affect your overall lifestyle too, enabling you to live your life far healthier with lowered levels of anxiety.
Providing A Routine For Your Day
When you first get a pet, it can be hard to adjust your way of living to this new living thing that cohabits with you.
It is next to impossible to find a pet that has the exact same routine as you, and since you can’t communicate with an animal as you would with a human and encourage them to sleep a little later, you need to adapt to them and wake yourself up at the same time.
There are so many things that need to be considered when you get a pet such as feeding times, and whether you need to take them out for some exercise, as well as making sure they can use the bathroom (no, we don’t mean your bathroom of course, but pets still get those calls from nature too y’know!).
Getting a pet introduces you to a whole new routine, and whilst it may be a little difficult to adjust to, you will soon find that this routine becomes second nature.
The routine does not just go away on the weekend either, you have to follow it day in day out. This provides you with some consistency in your life. You will always be well aware that you need to get up to feed them at a certain time, be able to walk them at a certain time, and maybe even feed them their medicine at a certain time.
Routines can help a person tremendously too. With a solid routine, you will always know what is going on with your day. You know exactly when you are busy, and you can plan your day around that.
For example, if you know you always have to get up at 6 am to take your dog for a walk around the block, then you can be daily confident that, after the walk is over with, you will be up, energized, and ready to start your day. You will be less tempted to get back in bed and sleep late.
This can, in turn, increase productivity. As well as this, having a routine is important for our mental wellbeing. It can lead to less stress in the long run and it can also ensure you have more time left over to relax as you will already have time dedicated to all of your responsibilities.
Other ways that having a routine can be of benefit to us is by:
- Encouraging better sleep at night – this is because the body feels more rested after a day of productivity, and it will also reap the benefits of having a regular bedtime.
- Better health overall – this is because someone with a routine is more likely to take better care of themselves, for example, they may be less inclined to reach for high sugar foods for energy and lots of coffee. They may also find that they have more time to dedicate to cooking healthy meals and getting regular exercise.
Wow, all of these benefits just from an improved routine because of a pet? Surely there can’t be that many more benefits? Well, prepare yourself because we are not even halfway through the benefits of keeping a pet yet.
We mentioned exercise in the previous section, and how exercise can help you to feel healthier overall.
Exercise is such an important component in having a healthy lifestyle that we felt we should discuss it in its own section too.
We wanted to explain all the ways having a pet can help you to get more exercise into your daily life.
It is far easier to fit exercise into your life when you are in a routine. Luckily, having a pet does provide you with a routine. However, not only that, but you can actually incorporate your pet into your exercise.
No, we don’t mean challenging your cat to a squat competition (imagine how funny that would be though!). What we mean is that you can exercise with your pet. Pets often need exercise too.
Dogs, cats, rabbits, and horses are some of the bigger animals on our list of pets. These are the animals that may need you to help them to get their exercise. Dog walking can be an excellent way of getting your exercise in, as well as your furry friend.
Most dogs will happily walk for miles and miles without getting bored. Likewise, playing with a cat in the house or garden can surprisingly feel like you have just done a full exercise routine.
Many rabbits and cats are also happy to be walked very short distances, perhaps around the garden on specially made leads. Of course, the reasons for keeping a horse are often because the owner is a keen horse rider.
This too is an amazing exercise. Even if you do not horse ride, you can still lead your horse around in a wide-open space, increasing your step count as well as helping them to get some much-needed exercise. As well as this, it is thought that having a pet, in particular, a dog, can help you to become more interested in outdoor activities.
It can also make you seem more approachable to other people you meet whilst dog walking. This can be a further encouragement to go for regular walks, as you can organize with fellow dog walkers to meet up. Exercising in a group, or even just with one other person can help you to motivate yourself far easier.
Helping You Meet New People
Linked to the section above, keeping a pet can also help to expand your social circle.
When you have a pet, one of the most comforting things is that you are not the only person who has one.
To expand, what we mean is that sometimes having a pet can feel like a huge responsibility.
You do not want to do anything that may upset or hurt your pet in any way.
Knowing that there are many other pet owners in the world that you can go to for advice is certainly a comfort.
Of course, for anything health-related, we always recommend consulting a veterinarian. However, there are so many social groups out there for owners of dogs, cats, rabbits, and a whole number of other animals.
Social media, for all its faults, is an excellent way of introducing yourself to fellow owners of pets. It can provide you with a place to chat with others about the wonderment of owning your particular breed of pet.
It may even lead you to meet up with other people, or organize pet playdates. This can have an excellent effect on our lifestyles.
As we mentioned earlier in the article, companionship is so important for all living things, therefore, meeting people with a shared interest (in this case, fellow pet owners) could mean that you make some new long-lasting human connections.
We are also certain that your pet will thank you for introducing them to another little animal just like them. Pets can act as what is known as a social lubricant. That is to say, they provide a topic of conversation, or perhaps an icebreaker in a conversation.
This is especially valid for those people who may otherwise have troubling starting up conversations with new people.
Another way to meet people through your pet is of course through dog walking! Sure, this only applies to dogs, but since dog ownership makes up a huge majority of all pet keepers in the world, it is important to mention.
Next time you are out walking in your neighborhood, make note of all the people you see out walking their dogs. We are sure that in no time at all you will have counted lots of them. When you are out and about walking your dog, fellow dog owners are likely to smile, or even say hi and start a conversation.
This is especially the case if your dogs decide to sniff each other and make friends. Meeting people whilst dog walking has long been a valid way to make friends.
Other ways you can meet new people through your pets include:
- Puppy training classes – These are becoming increasingly popular to train your new puppies the basic commands like ‘Fetch’, ‘Sit’ and ‘Stay’. They are also used to help ensure that they grow up to be dogs with good behavior. They are often done in classes with other puppies and so it is likely you will meet other dog owners there
- At the pet store – when making your regular trip to the pet store you may found that you see the same friendly faces each time and spark up a conversation with them
- At the vet – you may bond with another worried pet owner whilst taking your pet to the vet
- Being more friendly and sociable – Having pets can make us seem more approachable. This is not just true of dog walking. Sure, people may come and speak to you when they see you walking your dog, but equally, you may find neighbors want to ask you about your cute kitten they saw playing out in your yard, or the rabbits they saw in the hutch.
Meeting new people and forming a bond with someone is one of the nicest feelings, and it is clear that having a pet can help improve our chances of this happening.
They Offer Unconditional Love
As we mentioned at the start of the article, the love a pet can give us is like no other. humans, for all their good qualities, can say and do mean things.
However, an innocent animal will never do or say something mean on purpose.
Sure, they may get a little mischievous at times or chew our favorite shoes, but they don’t do this to be mean spirited.
They dote on their human companions and see us with such love and affection in ways other humans simply can’t. This unconditional love that they offer is something that we all deserve and need.
All humans have a need to be depended on, whether you are a man, woman, child… Everyone has this urge to provide care and to feel like they are needed. Having a pet allows us to have that feeling, and what’s more, feel it being reciprocated.
A lot of this comes from the fact that pets are non-judgemental. They cannot see things the way humans do. They do not know about our mistakes, our disappointments, our failings, or anything else that we may deem as ‘bad’ about ourselves.
Whereas humans, such as family and friends can be disappointed with us and stop talking to us, pets cannot do this. They will love us unconditionally regardless of what every other human in the world thinks of us.
Dogs, in particular, are fiercely loyal – we’re sure you’ve all heard stories about dogs sitting at their owner’s grave after they have passed away. This loyalty is one of the reasons that dogs are most often used as therapy animals.
However, even cats, horses, rabbits, and many other animals can provide us with this unconditional support and love, and it is becoming more and more common to see these being used as therapy animals too. Unconditional love, then, is such a key component in having a healthy lifestyle.
It is proven that a child that has been provided with unconditional love, for example, is more likely to grow up with less stress, more emotional resilience, and with less of a risk of developing a mental health problem. With this in mind, it is clear that unconditional love in any form is a positive thing.
The Benefits of Having A Pet For Children
Getting your child a pet probably seems like a very daunting task. They may have been talking to their school friend about a new puppy they had or their shared love of kittens and all of a sudden they hit you with “Mom, Dad, can we get a puppy?”.
Cue the puppy dog eyes (from your child, not a dog) and the weeks and weeks of constant nagging. You may be having many thoughts about this. On one hand, a puppy would be adorable and your child would love having a companion they could play with.
However, on the other hand, they go through phases with toys like no tomorrow and you worry they would soon get bored of a puppy (especially when it is not a cute little ball of fluff anymore).
Then there is the extra cost to factor in, oh, and of course, all the poop. That being said, you can’t get the idea of a cute little puppy and then a long-time companion out of your head.
Let us help you along the way by showing you exactly what the benefits of having a pet for children are. Trust us, there are more than you may think and it could help to form your child into an even more wonderful version of themselves.
|Teach them responsibility||Giving children some responsibility for the family pet, for example, helping to groom it, getting fresh water, and cleaning up after it can be a fantastic way of giving your child more responsibility.|
|Give them a companion||This is especially important if your child has no siblings or cousins of a similar age. |
It can be quite lonely growing up as an only child, but having a family pet can be the perfect way of giving them a companion.
Pets are a part of the family and your child will look at them as their brother or sister.
|Teach empathy||If a child has grown up with a pet they are more likely to be empathetic to all animals, as well as more empathetic in general towards other people. |
This is because they are likely to consider the feelings of the family pet and begin to understand that they may have different needs from us.
|Improve their self esteem and confidence||Because of the unconditional love, a pet can give us, this can have wonderful effects on self esteem. |
A child who has received the unconditional love of a pet is likely to feel more worthy and confident in themselves.
|Teach them about non-verbal communication||Pets cannot communicate in the same way humans can. However, they do have other ways of communicating. |
A child learning about these non-verbal ways of communicating can be a very valuable lesson that teaches them that not everyone can communicate like them.
It may make them more intuitive as they will be on the look-out for non-verbal signs to tell how a person or animal is feeling.
|Teach them about the importance of good, trusting relationships||The trust and bond between a child and their pet can be a valuable life lesson about the importance of maintaining relationships like this in all aspects of their lives.|
|The importance of patience||Pets live a different life than humans. |
They often sleep a little more, and depending on their age they may be a little slower or take a little more time to understand something.
Bringing a child up with a pet can help teach them patience.
For example, if a child wants to play with a kitten but the kitten is asleep, they have to be patient and wait until the kitten is awake.
It teaches them that every living thing has different needs and we must all be patient while they get those needs.
|Physical activity||Even the smallest pet needs some physical activity. Encourage your child to play with their pet so that they can both get exercise. |
Of course, they may be easier with bigger pets such as dogs, cats, and rabbits.
Take your child along with you on dog walks, and encourage them to play with the cat or rabbit.
|Social skills||Having a pet is an excellent conversation starter. |
Your child will be eager to tell people about their beloved pet and it will encourage them to talk aloud to others.
They may even make friends with fellow pet lovers.
The Benefits of Having A Pet For Older Adults
We have talked a lot about the benefits of companionship throughout our article, and we are sure you all know how important it is that we, as humans, have companionship in some form.
However, the age group that can most benefit from this companionship is the older generation. Older adults, especially those who live alone, tend to be more cut out of society. Of course, this is not done purposely.
It just happens sometimes as people get older and their health may dwindle that they find themselves going out less and less. This can be especially difficult for those people who have never married, never had children, or lost most of their loved ones.
Loneliness is quite the epidemic in the older generation and has been the reason for many different campaigns to try and combat this. One of the most beneficial things that help to combat loneliness in older people is providing them with a pet.
A pet can prove to be a wonderful companion for an older person. Especially when time is taken to find a pet that suits them and their lifestyle.
What we mean by this is that it would be no good pairing a super active puppy with an elderly man with limited mobility. Instead, they may prefer a peaceful cat who does not require much in the way of exercise.
Likewise, an older person who needs a little extra encouragement to get out walking would not benefit from a lap dog. Instead, they may be better suited with a more active dog that will be able to accompany them on daily walks.
As we discussed in the very first section about how pets can help us to achieve a healthy lifestyle, the same things apply to pets for older people. As older people are more prone to loneliness, they may also be prone to anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.
Having the proven calming effect of an animal to cuddle can provide them with a daily dose of stress relief. This, in turn, can help to boost their physical health. As people start to age, it is no surprise that their physical health can start to dwindle.
The fantastic health benefits that a pet can provide such as reduced cholesterol, more serotonin, and less chance of heart-related illnesses can be a welcome benefit for many older people.
As well as this, it is thought that heart attack patients are more likely to survive for longer if they have a pet compared to those heart attack patients who don’t have a pet.
For our final thoughts on the topic, it is clear to us, to experts, and hopefully now, to you that the benefits for the whole family of having a pet are innumerous.
There are so many different caveats that need to be considered before getting a pet, of course, but in our opinion, the benefits as discussed above far outweigh any doubts we may have about pet ownership.
Choosing to keep a pet can have immense benefits on the life of yourself, your family, and of course, your furry loved one! It goes without saying that we would never suggest getting a pet for purely selfish reasons.
In fact, it will be far more beneficial for all parties if you choose a pet under the strictest conditions, ensuring that all members of your family bond with the pet first of all, and that the pet seems to enjoy being with you.
For this reason, a lot of thought must go into your pet. You should consider how much of a responsibility it is going to be rather than just choosing a pet because you think it is going to improve your lifestyle.
Pet ownership is a two-way street and you must give your pet as much as you take. With this in mind, you should avoid choosing a pet that needs walking twice a day if you are not physically able to provide this.
Likewise, if you choose a pet that needs companionship all day but you work long hours, this would make the relationship with your pet very strained and they may never be suited to you.
Of course, as soon as you have researched the best pet for you and your lifestyle, and perhaps met your chosen pet a few times before making a final decision, you will be able to relish the experience of having a furry (or scaly if you have a snake or reptile) companion for the rest of their lives.
The benefits that you will gain from this are incredible and it will be one of the best decisions you have ever made – both for you, your family, and your lovely pet.
You will have brought in a new family member that you will all love and treasure unconditionally.