5 Reasons to Consider Getting a Family Pet

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Pet ownership across the United States is at an all-time high, with some surveys estimating that up to 70 percent of all American households keep at least one pet. Shelters across the country have also recently reported a pronounced spike in adoption and fostering applications, in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Because so many people are currently working remotely, they now have more time to care for a pet. For many, having an animal close by also relieves feelings of isolation and loneliness.

The many physical, emotional, and social benefits of keeping a pet aren’t unique to these difficult times, either. Research has long shown that pets have a significant positive impact on the lives of their owners. If you’re thinking about bringing a pet into your household and want to know more about why you should, read on. Here are five major reasons pet ownership can be good for you and your family:

Provides Constant Companionship

Perhaps the most obvious benefit of getting a pet is the abundance of precious memories you and your family will undoubtedly share with them during their lifetime. Experiences like picking out customizable dog collars and leashes for your new puppy or exploring your neighborhood together will surely bring a lot of joy to even the most mundane days. Because animals are prone to doing all sorts of silly things, even the most routine tasks like feeding them or giving them a drink may come with their share of surprises.

Pets can also be wonderful sources of unconditional love and support during hard times. Whether you’re dealing with a bad day at work or school, an argument with a friend or family member, or some other setback, a good cuddle with the family pet can be a great comfort. The steadfast presence of a beloved pet is especially good for kids as they grapple with the many changes and challenges that growing up naturally brings.

Encourages an Active Lifestyle

The demands of our daily life often pile up so much that many of us, our children included, struggle to make time for exercise. Having a dog, however, can encourage you and your family to be more physically active and spend more time outdoors. Though precisely how much exercise a dog will need depends largely on their breed, all dogs need at least some regular physical activity to stay healthy. 

Going on daily walks or playing in the yard with your dog is an excellent way to help you and your family members stay in shape. It makes for a lot of great bonding moments, too. Playtime will also help both your kids and your pets burn off any excess energy they might be carrying around, so they’re more likely to sleep well at night and wake up feeling refreshed.

Alleviates Stress and Anxiety 

Over the years, numerous studies have attempted to identify and describe the many ways pets affect their owners. The majority of these studies have one particular finding in common: that constant friendly interaction with animals reduces stress. Furthermore, in many cases, the more time people spend with their pets, the less stressed they are overall.

Pet owners that have participated in such experiments have been found to have lower rates of high blood pressure and lower levels of cortisol, which is known as the stress hormone. Spending quality time with your pet can also increase levels of oxytocin in the body, a hormone that gives rise to feelings of affection and closeness and acts as an overall mood booster.

Teaches Children Important Life Lessons

While keeping a pet can help the entire family in many ways, research shows that children in particular stand to benefit the most from growing up with an animal. Pet care is, for instance, often a child’s first taste of real responsibility. Placing your children in charge of daily tasks like feeding, playing, and cleaning will add some useful structure to their days and teach them accountability and consistency.

As children get used to caring for their pets and become more attuned to their pets’ needs, they’ll also have plenty of opportunities to learn compassion, empathy, and emotional sensitivity. Because pets can’t communicate verbally, your kids will have to pay extra attention to the animal’s behavior and intuit how their pet might be feeling at any particular moment. Being attentive to the needs of others and treating others kindly and gently will, in turn, serve them well in their interpersonal relationships.

Facilitates Social Interaction

Dogs and cats don’t just make wonderful company in themselves—they can also help you and your family members make human friends as well. Because pets can be naturally curious about their environment, including people and other animals, they’re often catalysts for social interaction. If you walk your dog around your neighborhood regularly, for example, you’ll likely strike up some friendly conversation with other pet owners in the area sooner rather than later.

If you’ve been on the fence about adopting a pet, rest assured that doing so could be one of the best things you do for your whole household. Many scientific studies of pet owners have consistently found that they and their family members are often observably happier, healthier, and more satisfied with life than people without pets. Whether you bring home a dog, a cat, or any other animal companion, they’ll definitely repay the amount of care and attention you lavish on them many times over.