Having a connection to an animal can be a great, positive experience. You’ve probably heard of therapy animals, but any sort of pet can help you regardless of if they’re an official therapy animal or not. Here are some ways pets can be good for your health.
1. Having a pet can help you keep a strong sense of your self-worth and purpose. The responsibility of a pet is a big one, and can often give you motivation to take care of yourself for the sake of your pet. The realization that your pet needs you, just as much as you need them, helps pet owners feel a sense of purpose.
2. Pets can help improve your physical health. A pet helps introduce physical activity into your life, like playing with them or walking them. Some studies show that pet owners are healthier than those without pets, and that pets can help to distract people from symptoms they are experiencing.
3. Animals can help with social interaction and emotions. Studies show that pets help nurture new social connections and community. Talking about your pet to others can act as a topic of conversation when meeting new people. A common interest can serve as an icebreaker when meeting new people. In the study on how pets benefit mental health, pets were perceived as “providing unconditional love and support and helping to ease feelings of worry, distress, and loneliness… that individuals were not receiving from their families or other social relationships.”
Feeling like you might want to get a pet? There are a few things to consider before getting your furry friend.
Questions to ask yourself before getting a pet:
- How much time can I dedicate to my pet each day?
- Can I afford to own an animal? Pets come with many costs including food, toys, vaccines, emergencies and medications, to name a few. Does this fit into your budget?
- Do you have family or friends who can help watch your pet if you are away?
- What will your life be like in the next 5-10 years? Pets are a long term commitment and you need to make sure they also fit into your plans for your future.
While we highlight some reasons to get a pet, owning them is a big responsibility and they can be expensive. You don’t need to have your own pet though, you can still get some of the benefits of one by:
- Offering to take care of a pet for a friend or family member.
- Visit or volunteer at your local shelter.
- If you can look after a pet but don’t want the long-term commitment you can foster animals for local shelters.
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