<![CDATA[Sadie. Mobi. Diego. Kila. No matter the name, many pets are considered to be members of the family, providing companionship, protection, and unconditional love. The pet-owner relationship has some powerful benefits, which may explain why pet ownership has been on the rise in the United States and around the world. Thirty years ago, just about one-half of American households owned pets. Last year, almost 70 percent did.1, 2
The prevalence of pets is not the only thing that’s changed in the United States (and elsewhere). People are spending a lot of money to provide their pets with exceptional levels of care. James Tozer of 1843 Magazine reported, “Owners can now buy beer for their dogs in Melbourne, send their cats to a luxury five-star hotel in Kuala Lumpur, and indulge their guinea pigs with a spa weekend in the English countryside…But most of the increased spending has been on food and vets…”1
Ironically, many pets don’t need much. They’re happy and loyal companions, and the benefits their owners experience are priceless. These benefits include:
- Unlimited love and emotional support. Life is stressful and pets offer loyalty and unconditional love. They help us cope by reducing depression, offering companionship, and minimizing anxiety. It’s called the ‘Pet Effect.’ The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) described it like this, “Pets change people – this is something we all understand on an emotional level. But is it possible that having a pet could change our health in other ways? A growing body of research says ‘yes.’
- Support for physical, emotional, and mental ailments. Therapy animals have become an important part of daily life for people suffering from physical, emotional, and psychological issues. For example, veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) experience more feelings of love and less anxiety with the support of a service dog. Doctors have begun prescribing animal-assisted therapy and pet ownership in some cases.
- •Improve your health. A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) determined, “…the bond between people and their pets can increase fitness, lower stress, and bring happiness to their owners.” The benefits included lower blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and fewer feelings of loneliness. In addition, having a pet created more opportunities for exercise and outdoor activities.
Whether you are a dog person, a cat person, a rabbit, fish, or pig person, owning a pet can bring you joy and comfort when you need it the most. If you’re not ready for the full-time responsibility of a pet, consider fostering an animal or volunteering at your local animal shelter. Interacting with animals may provide some wonderful benefits.