By Janice Jones |Last Updated November 25, 2019
Do you own a pet? That is probably a rhetorical question because if you are here on this page, you either own one or are thinking about it.
Many lifelong pet owners will tell you that they don't own a pet. Rather, the pet owns them. Consider what we do for our pets. Over the course of loving and living with a pet, we act as a food server, busboy, and cook, nurse, hair stylist, teacher, chauffeur, and all-purpose cleanup crew among others.
Even with all these roles, pets always give back more than the take.
As you probably guessed, I am little biased towards small dogs, and for good reason, but small dogs are not the only pets that are very beneficial to people. Nevertheless...
So, you’ve seen my bias, small dogs, but everyone is different, and while I love small dogs, they are not the only pets one can own. Anyone can own a pet, whether it is a tiny hamster, a small kitten, or a giant Great Dane. To set the record straight, I've lived with a fair number of pets over the course of my lifetime.
People should own a pet, but the types from which to choose are endless. How many can you name? Here are just a few of the types of pets that people prize. Within each type there are numerous sub-types.
Birds (Parrots, Finches, etc.)
Salt Water Fish
According to the American Pet Products Association, 67% of American households owned a pet in 2019-2000 which breaks down to roughly 84.9 million homes with a pet. Millennials are taking the lead.
To put this in perspective, there are 127.59 million households in the U.S. in 2018. It is obvious that people like to keep pets around, but why?
I've listed 20 reasons why you should own a pet. There are probably many more.
There are few ways that humans can truly experience Unconditional Love but pets such as dogs can give us an idea of what they look like. If we take that seriously, we may find ourselves trying to mimic or live up to lofty ideals and practice on our fellow humans.
There have been numerous studies done on the effects of pet ownership. With as much stress as the typical person faces on a day-to-basis, it is no wonder that people search for ways to alleviate some of that stress.
Few of us live in large extended families in the 21st century. In 2016, it was reported that there are more than 35 million single-person households in the U.S. alone. That is a lot of people living alone some by choice, others by necessity. A pet can make them feel as they are never alone.
There is no denying that our pets make us laugh and laughter is a good thing. Reports show that laughter is helpful for our physical, mental, and social health. Their antics can be cute, silly, or surprising. Many people will take that to the next level by filming their pets and providing videos and photos for others to enjoy.
Elderly, frail or individuals with poor physical or mental health can benefit from having something to care for. Everyone needs purpose in their lives and this is especially true for those who suffer from depression, victims of violence, and the elderly.
In the Journal of Social Psychology, one study reported that elderly dog owners felt less dissatisfaction with their social, physical and emotional states.
Empathy is not something that seems to come naturally to some people. But it is a skill that can be taught. Compassion is similar.
People vary widely in their ability to read the body language of their fellow human beings. When it comes to pets, body language is all we must go on to communicate effectively.
This knowledge is not likely to develop overnight, but overtime, we can become experts on what our pets are trying to say. Just becoming aware of body language as a totally different way to communicate can make people more aware of what others (and themselves) are trying to express with their body's expressions.
There is no denying that many people chose to keep a pet for protection. Guard dogs are not a phenomenon of the 21st century, rather they may be one of the very first reasons early hunters and gathers chose to keep dogs nearby. Other animals have an uncanny sense that something is about to happen and can alert their owners to danger.
"Danger, danger, Will Robinson," states the robot in the Netflix's showing of Lost in Space. You don't need to program a pet to sense danger, they do it naturally. Whether it is a fire, an earthquake, or an approaching storm, animals have a way of responding to impending danger.
Watching a tank full of swimming fish may not be an ideal way to exercise, so this reason may only pertain to certain pets.
Walking a dog, however, is a great way for nearly anyone to get outside and exercise. Some breeds require much more exercise than others, so a daily walk may not be enough to keep these breeds happy.
Walking is just one way to exercise with your dog, other choices include running or jogging, biking, hiking, or doga (yoga for dogs). For something more organized, try agility for a great workout.
Most pets thrive in an environment where there is a predictable routine that allows for meal time, rest time, pottying, and playing. People, especially children also benefit from a schedule that is fairly consistent from day to day. Having a schedule and sticking to it is one way to reduce chaos and stress. A good routine is vital for the organized life.
Not only will a new pet provide a new friend, but it is likely that you will meet new people along the way that have shared interested. Whether it is during a class on rabbit care or an organized dog sport, if friendship is your goal, you can't go wrong with a pet.
It is hard to say how many people met others at a park or trail walking their dog. It is safe to say, though, that this might be the easiest and most comfortable way to meet new acquaintances or even partners.
Whether you know it or not, taking on a new pet opens up a whole new body of knowledge to master. Not only does one learn about the pet, (personality, health, nutrition, care and much more) but also hands on skills of taking care of the pet on a daily basis.
New pet owners learn how to handle and hold the new pet, then graduate onto specific tasks required for caring such as how to clip dog nails or chicken wings.
It's hard to stop with just practical knowledge or the mastery of new skills, most pet owners want to show off their new interests in other ways such as wearing pet apparel or jewelry or decorating their home or office with items that remind them of their pet. Our pet card is one such company that caters to the desires of pet admirers, selling typical items that pet lovers want to own.
Before you know it you have developed an entire new interest or hobby that only gets better the more you learn.
It has been widely studied and confirmed that petting a dog can lower one's blood pressure and heart rate. Dog owners are likely to have a healthier heart. Some studies have also suggested that dog owners are more likely to survive a heart attack compared to non-dog owners.
If asked most pet owners, you are likely to tell you that they do talk to their pets. Sometimes these conversations involve what is happening at the moment such as, "I'll be back." Others may confide in their dog or carry on more length conversations.
Something changes when we share our thoughts verbally and that is the beginning of the counselor-client relationship. Naturally dogs can't talk back, but they are excellent listeners and will make eye contact, not argue, not talk back, and not judge.
These are all the traits of an excellent counselor. Many people find it therapeutic to just hear their thoughts spoken out loud.
Some of the most surprising ways we learn about ourselves is through interactions and relationships with others. From debating a controversial subject to how you act around different people, all give you glimpse into your own psyche. Some people are more aware than others.
Dogs can play a role by just being themselves. You can learn your tolerance levels, how patient you are, how adept you are a manual care tasks to how well you manage emergencies and upsets.
Many young people will choose a dog or cat as a forerunner to starting a family. Practicing with a dog may make some parenting chores easier.
Those who suffer from depression, bipolar, anxiety or other debilitating mental health disorders can benefit from owning a pet. The Huffington Post reports that elderly women and HIV-positive men report less depression than others with the same demographics. There is also evidence that therapy dogs have a positive effect on everyone.
Hands on learning is the best way to teach young children and what could be better than holding, petting, and playing with a pet. Through the guidance of a caring adult, children can learn gentle ways to handle an animal, empathy for living creatures, and even practical information such as what do chickens eat.
Doctors used to think that dogs and cats were a cause of allergies in children, but the thinking has changed. Dr. Gern, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison demonstrated that having a pet actually lowers a child's chances of developing allergies. Children exposed at a very young age to animals tend to develop stronger immune systems.
Gern, Dr. James E. "Effects of dog ownership and genotype on immune development and atopy in infancy." Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 02/11/2004.
Many people rely on service dogs to detect oncoming seizures or alert their diabetic owners of an impending drop in blood sugar. We have dogs that help hearing impaired and blind people live independently.
There are also dogs that will help people with mobility problems. Perhaps you don't have any specific physical limitations, but need the comfort that an emotional support animal can provide.
We have named so many different kinds of animals, mammals, reptiles, birds, amphibians, and fish that make wonderful pets. But some animals should not be caught and kept as pets.
Wild animals should not be pets - - skunks, raccoons, foxes, squirrels, coyotes, bobcats, and wild birds can be dangerous and unpredictable. They also carry diseases some of which can be transmitted to you and your other pets.
If you find an injured animal or a nest of baby animals, it is better that you take them to a wildlife rehabilitators.
Large (zoo) animals should not be kept as pets as they require special diets and can be dangerous. Even the tamest lion and tiger could escape and cause major havoc to the neighboring area.
Nonhuman primates, though popular in the past, don't make good pets either. They can bite and do carry disease that can affect you. So say goodbye to this group of animals and pick one that has been domesticated and raised from birth by humans.
Have I convinced you that everyone should own a pet? The bottom line is that pets are just good for us.
They improve our physical and emotional health, the build confidence and self esteem, they can even detect and warn their owners about such this as an oncoming seizure or low blood sugar. There are numerous health benefits for people of all ages and they can greatly enhance our social life.
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