No matter what size pet you own, just having the opportunity to care for another living creature provides a wonderful setting for teaching the importance of caring for something beyond ourself. The confidence we gain from being able to nurture and provide care for an animal as we watch it grow and return its gratification to us lovingly, encourages us and shows us the wonderful results and the positive impact it has on our life. Caring for something beyond ourself may seem easy, but in reality, it is a very important undertaking which teaches us to learn more about others and how to care for their needs while still managing to successfully care for ourself at the same time.
Like humans, pets will have their moments when they are feeling sad, or depressed or perhaps just bored and in need of attention. Fortunately, our pets know that affection from their owners will make them feel better, which not only benefits our pets, but benefits us too! As we give our pet love and attention, it makes us feel important, useful and encourages positive emotions in us.
Owning a pet can improve your mood. It is difficult to stay angry or sad when your cat hops into your lap and starts to purr, or your dog lays his face in your lap and stares up at you with big adorable eyes begging for a walk or a simple pat on the head. The next time you are angry, take a deep breath and stroke your cat or give your dog a hug. You will be able to feel the tightness in your body start to ease the moment your focus shifts from what made you angry to your pet and their calmness and the affection they return.
Pets can be extremely entertaining without even trying or knowing they are doing so, and without any special training too. Just think about watching your pup chase his tail that always seems to stay one step ahead of him, or when your cat chases a fly or finds a piece of string on the carpet and tries to grab it. Their antics instantly make us laugh. How about that spectacular leap your dog makes catching a frisbee or the funny posture your cat takes when leaping after a ball you’ve rolled her way? We enjoy watching these tricks they perform, and the happiness we derive from the laughter is great for our health and emotional well-being.
When you own a dog, your are more likely to walk more and generally get more exercise than if you have no pet at all or even own a cat; simply because dogs are more active and do require a bit more “active” interaction and attention than felines do. A great way to get exercise is walking your dog daily. You don’t even have to take long walks; just a short walk each day gives both of you an opportunity to get outdoors and exercise without it feeling like exercise, and is also an excellent chance to further nurture the bond between you. For those that own a cat, you don’t have to take a walk daily, but take time to interact with your favorite feline with a game of catch indoors or pull a ball around on a string and watch your cat chase it happily. This simple activity get you and your cat off the couch and moving around and helps build that loving bond between you.
People who own a dog usually find it easier to interact with strangers when out and about, especially when they take their dog for a walk. With the technological advances in recent years making us generally less interactive beyond our work and home, many pet owners agree that having a pet has helped to keep the balance of technology and humanness more in balance. Living with a pet, we focus less time on cold technology which may be fascinating and helpful in its primary function, but unfortunately has caused humans to stay at home and indoors and participate less in the “real time social and interactive” areas of life.
Pets make the best friends! Many people automatically consider them a member of the family. Unlike humans, pets always return affection unconditionally. They do not hold grudges, or question motives or have selfish reasons for interacting with us. Pets can sense when we are “not ourselves” (are sad, upset or lonely) and might need a hug. Pets enjoy the affection we show them and thrive on it just like we feel special when they wag their tales and show excitement when they see us.
Health and Pets
Recent studies in the past few years have shown how significantly pet ownership affects individuals. A study conducted by US National Institute of Health showed that people who own pets visit doctors less often for simple medical conditions than those who do not. Both physical and emotional recovery from surgeries and more serious illnesses was also found to progress at a higher rate for pet owners than people without pets.
Blood pressure rates in humans who own pets are less likely to spike due to tension and stress, and studies have even found that people who own a pet, particularly a cat, generally have a lower blood pressure.
A study conducted by AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) found that over 90% of the pet owners surveyed indicated their awareness of the health benefits of owning a pet and acknowledged it clearly affected the quality of their daily lives. Some other important statistics include:
- 31% improved physical fitness
- 76% reduced stress level
- 65% mental health improved
Because pet owners enjoy fewer visits to the doctor and can experience the benefits of lower blood pressure and negative effects of depression, stress and tension, they are rewarded with lower health care costs due to fewer simple illnesses which means a reduction in expenses for visits to the doctor and prescriptions. Here are a few other benefits of owning a pet:
- Helps fight depression – gives us an interest in life, and provides a positive focus for us
- Helps promote better overall health – research suggests this may even help reduce heart disease because it provides psychological and emotional stability during stressful periods
- Helps reduce stress – interaction with our pets provides “instant” stress relief and relaxation without the use of drugs or stimulants
Although owning a pet isn’t for everyone, it is clear to see that owning a pet is a positive, life-enriching experience for those who chose to make these wonderful creatures a part of their life.
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