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Owning a pet has many benefits. They quickly become part of the family and bring fun and love into the home. They can be hard work at times, especially when they are young, and need sleep and toilet training. However, with love and patience, these issues can be resolved and the positive traits far outweigh the negative.
Research has found that people who own pets are less stressed than those without. This is thought to be because playing or stroking a pet releases chemicals dopamine and serotonin which makes us feel relaxed and happier.
For older people, a pet can be a real lifeline. A dog can be the only reason someone leaves the house, and reduce the incredible loneliness that elderly people can suffer. It also increases the amount of exercise, which is always beneficial. For those who have limited mobility, cats are a great pet as they are a friendly companion who doesn’t need to be exercised. Rates of depression are lower among older people who have a pet too, and research shows that happier people are often healthier.
Depression is an overwhelming illness for many, and a pet can help with the isolation it brings whether the sufferer is young or old. Sometimes caring for an animal that loves you back unconditionally can help raise the self-esteem, even if just a little. Helping out at an animal shelter or offering to walk a neighbour’s dog can help too.
Cats and dogs are even used in some hospitals as the positive effects are said to help the sick. The organisation Pets as Therapy has over 4,500 dogs and cats that visit sick people all over the UK, reaching over half a million hospital and hospice beds. Visits from a friendly animal can give the person a few minutes reprieve from their thoughts and remind them of a childhood or family pet.
Any pet be it a cat, dog or reptile is great for a child. It encourages responsibility and nurturing instincts that are good social skills for kids to learn. As children grow older they can be given more tasks, such as feeding, walking and maintenance. Children often grow with their pets and form a strong bond and happy memories. Losing a pet is often the first way a child experiences death, and this can teach them about an unavoidable life experience. Of course, this does not seem like a benefit, but this can be helpful when dealing with the passing of a relative later on.
Of course, owning any animal is a big responsibility and no one should take on a pet without considering the time, costs and other factors involved. But the love, laughter and companionship that any beloved pet can bring will add extra happiness to your life, which is a definite bonus.