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Having a pet can help not only your physical health, but also your mental health in a number of different ways. Pets can help people of all ages, from children to the elderly. No matter your age, pets can add joy and unconditional love to your life. There are many different types of domesticated animals to choose from, and a lot of benefits of having a pet; however, it is important to understand when having a pet would not be beneficial for you, the drawbacks, and when it becomes negative for your health.

There are many different types of pets; dogs, cats, fish, reptiles, livestock, and more. The most commonly kept pets are dogs and cats. Although some people may be allergic to dogs or cats, there are many different breeds that are safe for those with allergies, called hypoallergenic animals. For example, some dog breeds that are hypoallergenic are Poodle, Yorkshire Terrier, Lhaso Apso, and many more. Regarding felines, the Oriental Shorthair, Russian Blue, and Siamese are just some of the breeds that are considered safe for those with cat allergies. However, dogs and cats are not the only type of pets you can have; fish, lizards, snakes, rodents, horses, cows, and any other type of domesticated animal can also be greatly beneficial as a pet.

There are many important factors in figuring out if getting a pet is right for you, such as how much time you can commit, which animals you personally like, the amount of money you want to spend, and many other things to figure out which animal would be the best for you.

It has been a well-researched fact that pets can be beneficial to not only your physical health, but also your mental health. According to Lawrence Robinson and Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., a pet can sometimes motivate their owner to do healthy exercise, become more active, and in turn lose weight. Pet ownership has also been proven to lower blood pressure, even for those with borderline hypertension, and lower cholesterol levels. Studies have even found that heart attack survivors live longer if they have a pet than without, and pet owners over sixty-five make nearly thirty percent fewer visits to the doctor than those without a pet. Although pet ownership has a lot of physical health benefits, there is a multitude of mental health benefits. Research and observational studies have also found that you are more likely to suffer from depression if you do not have a pet, and that interacting with animals elevates serotonin and dopamine levels. Pets reduce anxiety, add structure to your routine, provide sensory stress relief, help their owners become more social, ease loneliness by providing companionship, and in turn fulfill the basic human need for touch.

The effects of pets on the elderly and children are quite different. Older people find a new sense of meaning through pet ownership. Their pets help them stay connected, provide companionship to battle loneliness, and boost vitality. Children are made more secure by their pets, helping with possible separation anxiety from their parents. Pets can show children love and companionship, which helps them create a positive self-image. Pets can also teach children responsibility, how to build relationships, and stimulate their imagination and curiosity. Even the act of teaching their pet a new trick can show them the importance of perseverance. Studies have shown that having pets can help children with learning disorders as well as calm, hyperactive, or overly aggressive children. Regardless of your age, oftentimes owning a pet will add joy and love to your life.

Although pets can have many health benefits, they are not a cure-all. First, if you are simply not an “animal person”, then owning a pet is most likely not going to be very beneficial for you. Pet ownership is only for those who have a love for animals, appreciate their pets, are able to support and care for them, and have enough time to make sure their animal will live a happy, healthy life. Owning a pet is a long-term commitment.

Pet ownership comes with many health benefits, but there are certain things to take into consideration when thinking about getting a pet; the money it costs, the time needed to care for your pet, pets can be destructive, and they require a lot of responsibility. If you don’t think that owning a pet would be suitable for you, but you want the health benefits of owning a pet, there are some alternatives. You could volunteer at your local animal shelter, foster animals, or go somewhere to interact with specially trained therapy animals.

Interacting with animals, whether it is your own pet, a therapy animal, or a shelter animal you are volunteering your time to, is very beneficial to your health. There are many different types of animals you can choose from if you are wanting to get your own pet, even hypoallergenic ones. Although there can be benefits, you should understand the drawbacks and extent of the commitment before getting your very own pet. It is assured, though, that interaction with domesticated animals will provide you with joy.


Resources

Robinson, Lawrence, and Jeanne Segal. “Mood-Boosting Power of Pets.” ​Help Guide​, Oct. 2019, www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/mood-boosting-power-of-dogs.htm​.

Picard, Caroline. “20 Adorable Hypoallergenic Dogs That Don’t Shed.” ​Good Housekeeping​, 22 May 2019, www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/pets/g4503/dogs-that-dont-shed/​.

Lessard, Denyse. “14 Hypoallergenic Cat Breeds.” ​Homeo Animal​, www.homeoanimal.com/blogs/blog-pet-health/14-hypoallergenic-cat-breeds​.


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