Leonard is a former teacher and principal who has also been a writer for the past two decades. Writing and animals are his true loves.
If anyone is looking for proof that people love their pets, all they really need to do is go for a walk or drive around their neighborhood. Everywhere you look, individuals are walking their dogs, cats, and even ferrets!
Pet ownership is at an all-time high. In a study conducted by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), they found that 44% of all households in the United States have a dog and 35% have a cat. There can be little doubt about the fact that most people truly love their pets.
Nevertheless, there is still a significant number of people who have not experienced the sheer joy of pet ownership. In many cases, this is for a very good reason. In an article entitled 8 Top Reasons Not to Get a Pet, a variety of these factors are discussed. However, for those who are in the position to bring a pet into their lives, the benefits and delight of pet ownership are considerable.
- They make excellent companions.
- They help keep you physically fit.
- They help your mental state.
- They help you become more social.
- They teach you to be selfless.
- They give you purpose.
- They are great for children.
- They make you laugh.
Read on to discover the eight top reasons you should get a pet!
1. They Make Excellent Companions
It is quite common to have many people who will come and go in your life. If you are truly fortunate, you will have a few very close friends who will stick with you through life's inevitable ups and downs. Those of us who are not so lucky have very few close and dependable companions.
Pets Offer Unmatched Loyalty
However, your pet will always be a loyal buddy and companion whatever the circumstance may be. They will be there for you and genuinely offer a sense of understanding and empathy which is unmatched by their human counterparts. Indeed, research has shown that pets can provide excellent support and companionship which in many cases is better than people can give.
There can be a variety of reasons for this, such as the natural sense of empathy many pets have, and the fact that they are not always looking for something in return. Indeed, the simple fact of the matter is that many people prefer the companionship of pets over that of human beings. There is no judgment. In an Australian study, this was found to be the case:
Homeless pet owners that were attached to their pets often reported that their relationships with their pets were their only relationships and would not live in housing that would not allow their pets.—Psychological Reports
Pets frequently provide the owners with understanding and companionship which they cannot find elsewhere. Pets offer pure love, compassion, and an unbreakable bond. Why should you get a pet? Because they are excellent companions!
2. They Help Keep You Physically Fit
The majority of people realize that a good level of physical fitness is critical to their overall health. It will improve your mental, emotional, and physical condition. In fact, being physically fit will actually extend your life! For instance, the American Heart Association found that exercise such as walking will:
- Reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
- Reduce the risk of breast cancer; lower the risk of obesity.
- Lower the risk of obesity.
- Boost immunity.
- Improve blood pressure.
Those factors are all quite significant, but what does this have to do with owning a pet you may ask? All pets require regular exercise and playtime. That is an essential part of their life. As an owner, your pet will motivate you to get active for their sake.
After a long, hard day at work, the last thing we may want to do is go out for a walk. However, when we look down at the loving and longing eyes of our beloved pet, we quickly find the leash and head out to walk and exercise. It is absolutely a win-win situation for everyone. Why should you get a pet? It will help keep you physically fit!
3. They Help Your Mental State
It has been shown that owning a pet can certainly help your physical condition . . . but how can a pet possibly improve your mental health? Let us count the ways!
A variety of studies and research has shown that simply being together with your pet decreases the levels of the stress-producing hormone cortisol, and increases levels of the stress-reducing hormones oxytocin and dopamine. In fact, in a study which was released in Science magazine, it was revealed that when a dog owner looked into the eyes of their pet, the levels of oxytocin increased in both the owner and the pet.
Other studies have also further validated the claim that owning a pet can help your mental state. For example, an Australian study found that recently widowed women who owned a pet reported significantly fewer symptoms of psychological disease than widows who did not own pets.
Therapy and Emotional Support
There is a very real reason that we have therapy and companion pets. It has been inexplicably proven that they greatly reduce levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. Who out there does not get a huge mood boost when they come home after a difficult day to their excited and giddy pet who will jump into their arms and lick their face? Why should you get a pet? For the sake of your mental health!
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4. They Help You to Become More Social
Socializing with other people can often be a very difficult and overwhelming thing to do. For a variety of reasons, some people are naturally quite shy, bashful, and struggle to form new relationships. Instead, they will retreat to their comfort zone, usually their living room, and miss the many opportunities which life has to offer.
Pets Are Icebreakers
The great news, however, is that getting a pet will absolutely improve your social interactions. Having a pet is an amazing icebreaker. For example, if you take your dog for a walk, a variety of people will typically approach you and begin talking and asking questions. Just like that, you have found people with common interests!
There Are Social Groups for Pet Owners
Also, there are numerous social groups which are formed for pet owners who have similar interests. People are able to attend events such as dog walking clubs or cat cafes with their furry little icebreaker in hand. There are even a significant number of social networking sites which have emerged, such as "Petbrags" and "Catster." Not only can the members of these sites interact online, but they also offer various meetup events and opportunities.
Meeting Your Pet's Needs Will Make You Socialize
Lastly, when you have a pet, you are basically forced to get out there and socialize. Even if you don't want to! Your pet has needs such as exercise and grooming and rely on their owner to get out there in the real world and provide it for them. It will virtually force you to come out of the shadows and become a more social being. This will, in turn, increase your happiness. Why should you get a pet? So you can make new friends and socialize!
5. They Teach You to Be Selfless
"Those who teach about humanity aren't always humans."—Donald L. Hicks
There is good and evil in any society. We see it every single day when we turn on the news. It is very common to see people being harsh and cruel to one another in what is often a narrow desire to get ahead in life. This type of behavior can certainly be interpreted as selfish. It is almost the exact definition of the word!
However, a pet has the ability to teach their owner all about selflessness instead of selfishness. A very strong bond between pets and their owners almost always exists. The pet relies on their owner for their virtual survival. If someone has a hungry or sick pet, they will do whatever it takes to help them. It simply does not matter what else is going on.
So you want to watch that great episode of Game of Thrones? Too bad . . . it is time to feed your pet and take them for a walk. The very life and existence of your pet is in your hands. At this point, any decent pet owner will put aside their various needs and desires for the sake of their beloved pet. Why should you get a pet? It teaches the valuable character trait of selflessness.
6. They Give You Purpose
Up to this point, it has been shown how pets can alleviate mental health conditions and actually increase the levels of "happiness hormones" within the body. However, that is not the only way in which they assist people with their mental health.
Inevitably, everyone goes through high and low times in their lives. The degree to which people experience such feelings does vary significantly. Some individuals are consistently overwhelmed by negative thoughts or feelings and believe they have no direction or purpose in their lives.
However, pet ownership will provide a purpose for people as they will now be responsible for another living creature which depends upon them. Schedules and routines will need to be established and followed, which in turn provides increased structure and purpose for the human owners.
Pets Are Especially Helpful for the Elderly
While these factors can help all age groups, they are particularly relevant when considering the elderly. For instance, in a 2011 study, the following was discovered:
Dogs give the elderly a certain structure; fixed times for meals and walks provide elderly people with the feeling that they have a purpose and responsibility towards someone. Dogs give a certain meaning to their lives, since the task of caring for a dog also means a great responsibility.—PubMedCentral
When all of this is considered, it becomes quite obvious that providing people with a purpose in life is a key advantage of pet ownership. Why should you get a pet? To provide you with purpose and direction in your life.
7. They Are Great for Children
The relationship children have with pets is truly unique and special. If you ever had a pet in your childhood, the odds are you also have many fond memories of those times. The importance of pets to children cannot be overstated. For example, a five-year study found that children with pets who had learning difficulties, or whose parents had separated, had higher levels of self-esteem and better emotional intelligence than those who did not have a pet. That is huge!
Also, not only are pets great for the emotional health of children, but they teach the important character trait of responsibility as well. Children are typically only familiar with someone else taking care of them. However, when a pet arrives on the scene they need to start taking care of something. This will teach children structure, routine, responsibility, and they will begin to develop more empathy for others. Why should you get a pet? To build character in your children!
8. They Make You Laugh
Never underestimate the value and importance of a good belly laugh. Among many other benefits, laughing has been shown to reduce stress, improve mood, strengthen resilience, and make us more attractive to others. It has even been proven to burn calories! Considering these points, it should come as no shock then that laughter is a great reason to get a pet.
Whether it be watching your cat chase light sparkles on the wall, or your dog jumping for joy and running around in circles . . . our pets make us laugh all the time. They are always doing something funny and silly. In a busy and frequently overwhelming world, these happy, funny moments are precious and should be treasured. Why should you get a pet? They make you laugh every single day!
But Pets Aren't Good for Everyone
As was mentioned at the outset of this article, not everyone should get a pet. Some individuals are just not at the point in their lives where it would make any sense for them to get a pet. This would be unwise and very unfair and potentially disastrous to the animal. However, for those who are in a good position to provide a home to a pet, it will quickly become one of life's most rewarding experiences. There can be no doubt that our pets need us . . . but the case can certainly be made that we need them just as much, if not more!
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to animals (ASPCA). 2016
Benefits and Liabilities of Pets for the Homeless. Kidd A. Kidd R. Psychological Reports
The Benefits of Walking. American Heart Association
Pets Can Help Their Humans Create Friendships, Find Social Support. Patrick J. Skerrett. Harvard Health. 2015
The Health Benefits of Companion animals. Pets are a Wonderful Suppport. 2007
Elderly People in Many Respects Benefit From Interaction With Dogs. R. Scheibeck, M. Pallauf, C. Shellwan, B. Seeburger. PubMedCentral. 2011
How can Having Pets Improve Your Health? Let Us Count The Ways. www.sixwise.com
Laughter is the Best Medicine. Helpguide.org. 2016
Get Healthy Get A Dog. Anne Underwood. 2014
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.