For many of us, it has been a part of daily life. For others, it was an unrequited dream, hindered by parental, spatial, or other restrictions. And for lots of others, it has just never occurred as a concept.
And yet, having a four-legged companion (or a winged one, or one who lives in the water) can actually be very beneficial to anyone, provided, of course, that they like animals, and do not suffer from allergies.
The benefits of adopting a pet, both physiological and psychological, are listed below:
1. They cure loneliness
Before I had to give my kitten back to the shelter to be taken care of, due to a nasty case of ringworm, it just warmed my heart to know that after a long, hard day at school, this loving little furball would be waiting for me, mewing happily upon my return, and climbing all over me.
It was a comforting thought. I can only imagine what it must be like for owners of doubly enthusiastic dogs. Regardless, the mere presence of another being in the house is one of the most comforting things, especially for people with hectic schedules, who don’t have much time for socializing or personal life.
2. They help decrease stress and emotional crises
Pets are actually a great stress reliever. Sometimes, a better stress reliever than people. Pets don’t judge. They don’t offer an opinion when you just need to vent. They don’t expect your pain to conform to any sorts of expectations (if you are, for example, experiencing grief).
They are just there. They put their paws to your face when you’re crying. They lick your hands, they purr or sigh and curl up against you. They are warm and comforting. They just love you.
3. They lower blood pressure and cholesterol
Studies have shown that pet owners have lower cholesterol, the lowest being by five points, and decreased blood pressure, something that can be very beneficial, even life-saving, for people who are hypertensive or high-risk.
While the reason why pet owners have lower cholesterol is unclear (it might be because of the pet, it might simply be because people who lead healthier lifestyles are more likely to adopt a pet), the reason behind lower blood pressure can be traced back to stress reduction.
High blood pressure is, most of the time, also a result of stress and emotional strain, so a pet who loves and comforts you can help ease that, and keep your blood pressure in check.
4. Pets keep you active and help fight depression
You may want to stop taking care of yourself, but you would never stop taking care of your pet. Even on days when you cannot leave the bed, the dog still needs to be walked, the cat needs to be fed. They depend on you, and you must take care of them; that is why you are discouraged from giving up.
In some ways, a pet can save your life. Also, playing with your pets keeps you active, as well. Many people start working out by walking their dog or playing with their cat. Your pet needs to be in shape, and so do you, so combining the two can make exercising a bit more fun and accessible.
5. They generally keep you healthy
Physically and mentally. People with pets are more likely to recover from heart attacks and strokes, as well as mental afflictions, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). There is no doubt that the reasons for that are widely psychological, but by default, pets can help the production of hormones and other chemical components of our brain that can actually keep us alive.
6. They help you build immunity to allergies
Growing up with a pet means that your system has had plenty of time to get accustomed to pet allergens and build immunity to it, which in turn makes your system generally stronger, and more resilient. For that reason, people with pets get sick less often. However, it must be noted that this applies only to people who have grown up with pets, and whose system is more adaptable.
7. They teach you how to love and take care of others
If there is one thing my experience with my kitten left me with, it was increased responsibility and compassion. When you have learned how to take care of a basically defenseless being, to be responsible for them, and to provide for them, emotionally and materially, then you have improved as a person. You have reached conclusions and gained traits that otherwise you may have acquired much, much slower. It is not unrealistic to compare a pet to a child, in some ways.
And most importantly, they teach you how to love, unconditionally, even if they make a mess, or chew your show, or scratch your couch, or break a glass.
They teach you how to love them the way they love you.
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