Pets Make Life Better

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Lyra Thompson

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I’ve never known life without a pet. From my birth until 2021, I had a pet dog. Currently, I have a cat. While owning a cat versus a dog is a different experience, one thing’s for sure – my life is better with a pet, whether cat or dog, in it.

A pet is always there. Maybe they run over to you and bark excitedly in greeting when you come through the front door. Maybe they jump up on your desk and sit on your keyboard while you’re working. Whatever it is, a pet’s presence is felt. Pets can make your day brighter just by being there.

Pets are beneficial to your mental health. When someone is sad, sometimes the best solution is to lay next to your cat or dog and pet them slowly while you think through your feelings. Dogs can also sense emotion, so if you’re feeling angry or upset, your dog might cuddle up next to you to comfort you.

Science can back up this fact. Studies have shown that pet owners are less likely to suffer from depression and have lower blood pressure when dealing with stress than those without pets. According to a 2016 study from the Human Animal Bond Research Institute: pets contribute to a stronger sense of identity in pet owners with mental health conditions, provide a sense of security and routine, and provide a distraction and disruption from distressing symptoms. There’s a reason that dogs are used as companions for people with mental health conditions such as PTSD.

In addition to benefiting your mental and emotional health, pets keep you physically healthy. If you own a dog, you’ve likely gone on many walks with them or spent time outside throwing them a ball. When you take care of a pet, you stay active.

Even cats, who don’t require walks and physical activity as much as their canine counterparts, are very playful. My experience with owning a cat now is that when they have “the zoomies,” you’ll definitely be active trying to chase them around.

As evidenced by a Michigan Behavioral Risk Factor Survey from 2005, “Approximately 60% of dog walkers met the criteria for regular moderate and/or vigorous leisure‑time physical activity compared with about 45% for non‑dog owners and dog owners who did not walk their dog.” Other studies have shown that pet owners have lower cholesterol levels and that pet owners over the age 65 make 30% fewer doctor visits.

Additionally, pets can be extremely helpful to young children learning social skills. Libraries often host events where kids can read to dogs. These have been shown to benefit kids’ sharing, cooperation, and general behavior. Animals can also improve the demeanor of children with autism.

One more way that owning a pet improves a person’s life is that it teaches them responsibility. When you own a pet, you have to take care of that pet by making sure it’s fed and taking it to the vet when it’s sick. The responsibility and dedication required as a pet owner will greatly help with other things in life.

Pets are like family members – you love them, and they love you. You help them by taking care of them and giving them a home, but they benefit you in many ways. It’s my belief that anyone who is capable of owning a pet and treating them well should do so.