We are a pet family. We have dogs and cats, and have had both forever. I grew up with cats and the occasional dog, but I cannot remember a time in my life I didn’t have a cat! My kids have never known what it’s like to not have pets in the house.
We take it one step further as well and during the summer months, we volunteer with our local shelter, fostering kittens. Our house is a virtual zoo and quite chaotic but I can see why owning a pet is good for you! I’ve spent plenty of time snuggling one of our willing animals (usually the dogs as most of our cats aren’t thrilled with cuddle time).
There is something to be said about people who own pets seem to be healthier, and I do believe it to be true…most of the time. I’ll ignore the knocked down vases, the broken picture frames knocked over, the fur that decorates every single thing we own.
Instead, I’ll focus on why owning a pet might be a good healthy habit, especially one that needs a new home and is stuck in a shelter…I am a bit biased though, I won’t lie about that fact!
Owning a dog can make you more active. Walking a dog can help you get in enough steps each day helping to lower blood pressure. It’s not just walking them either – taking them outside to play catch can boost your heart health the more you run around with them! The simplest exercise of taking a walk can help your risk of diabetes and maintain (and even lose) weight.
There are many studies that suggest owning a pet can increase your heart health as well. Pet owners have a lower risk of heart disease and many people with pets have lower cholesterol as well as a lower chance of heart attack.
Asthma and Allergy Issues
Besides potentially increasing cardiovascular health, owning a pet has a couple other potentially positive side benefits. It’s believed that children who reside with pets have a lower risk/chance of asthma and allergies related to pet dander.
Stress and Loneliness
There are studies that say by cuddling your furry friend can release oxytocin which can calm and soothe you.
Having a pet can reduce loneliness. There’s something to be said about being greeted when entering your home each day. For those who live alone, having a familiar face welcoming your return can bring a smile to you face, especially after a hard day. Pairing this along with knowing there is someone depending on you also can lower the chances for depression.
In addition, dog owners have an advantage over cat owners when it comes to conversation starters. Dog owners have a built in conversations starter when out with their pet. Whether it’s people coming up to ask what kind of dog you own, kids asking to pet your pup, or chatting with other dog owners at a dog park or outdoor café.
Thing to Consider First
All of those reasons make a good argument for pet ownership, but there are some serious commitments to consider before jumping in to owning a pet:
There are a lot of costs associated with owning a pet. Pet food, toys, treats, and vet bills will add up. Pet insurance is an excellent option to offset any unexpected medical issues that might and will arise during your pets lifespan. The initial cost is usually the worst – buying everything you need the first time around. One of the wonderful things about adopting from your shelter is that your new pet will be started on the right foot – immunized, fixed, and microchipped. The cost for an older cat or dog is often cheaper than a puppy or kitten BUT during kitten season, many shelter’s run HUGE price decreases on new pets as the shelters become very impacted.
Walking your dog a couple times a day will require a small block of time, but it’s movement and you will get in your steps and some fresh air! and if you go the cat route, giving them attention and playing with them will take less time than a dog, definitely, but still some will be needed none the less.
Having a plan of action in place for your pet while you take a vacation is very important. With dogs, especially, boarding is very expensive and can be very stressful on your pet. It is something to strongly think about if you travel often.
A cat and many dogs can live 14+ years, so it’s a long term commitment!
At the end of the day, the benefits of owning a pet can make it a worthwhile investment of time, money, and attention. Increasing your overall quality of life is a great thing to consider and if you adopt from a local shelter, you’re potentially saving an animals life as well.