Due to the pandemic, you may find yourself spending a lot more time at home. Then, add wildfires and poor air quality to the mix, and getting outdoors can seem nearly impossible. All this time at home has led to an increase in pet adoptions — and for good reason!
Pets can ease anxiety and stress, and can even improve heart health. But that’s not all; read on to learn some of the main health benefits of a furry companion:
- Emotional Benefits
There’s no doubt that with any kind of pet, there is added responsibility. It might seem counterintuitive for added responsibilities to lead to less stress and anxiety, but the act of caring for animals has been proven to create feelings of completeness, companionship and comfort.
Animals like cats and dogs make for great companions. Whether you live by yourself or with others, these kinds of pets are eager to bond and meet you when you come home. While out and about, they can also help expand your social circle and help you feel safer if traveling alone.
Many pets also act as service animals for children. During times like these, they can be especially important and comforting. A well-trained pet can help comfort and ease stress in children, while also teaching responsibility. Children who bond with a pet can experience a number of positive effects, such as improved behavior and increased cognitive stimulation.
- Physical Benefits
Not only do pets provide emotional benefits, but they can provide physical benefits as well. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that the bond between people and their pets can reduce blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels and feelings of loneliness.
Since many pets require some form of exercise, you’ll have more opportunities for exercise, socialization and outdoor time. Young pets, especially puppies, may require a lot of physical activity, but participating in that will benefit all parties — and is a great way to ensure you’re getting some exercise every day.
In addition to the inner physical benefits, pets like dogs and cats can also physically calm their caretaker just by being near or being held. Research has shown that this is especially helpful for children with autism and learning disabilities.
Choosing the Right Pet for Your Family
Before getting a pet, it’s important to put in a good amount of research. Have allergies? Seek a pet that’s hypoallergenic or easy to groom. Have a busy schedule? Look for low-maintenance options, like fish or hermit crabs.
It’s critical to ask yourself the tough questions: Do I have the time to care for this pet? How much will food, shelter and veterinary care cost? How much exercise does this animal need, and will I have the time to provide it?
Putting in the work beforehand can prevent any hiccups as you find the right pet for you and your household. You can also work up to getting a “bigger” pet by focusing on a more manageable one (like a beta or goldfish) first.
Whether it be a service animal or simply a fun addition to the family, pets play vital roles in millions of households. We owe a lot to our furry friends!
This article first appeared in the October 2020 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.