Almost everyone has thought about adopting a pet at some point in their life. If you’ve considering bringing home a furry friend, what’s holding you back? Perhaps you think they’re too expensive, or the constant shedding doesn’t sound all that appealing. Rest assured, there’s a pet for every budget, level of maintenance and lifestyle. No matter which animal you adopt, they all provide the same things—unconditional love and companionship.
The companionship of a cat or dog can provide innumerable physical and mental health benefits. A furry friend assists in all areas of life, from helping you lose a couple extra pounds to mitigating the negative effects of Alzheimer’s or mood disorders.
If you’re on the fence about bringing home a furry friend, these health benefits will definitely make you want to commit! Here are six ways adopting a pet can improve your life.
- Teach children important lessons: If you’re a parent, your kids have no doubt begged for a puppy many times! Some parents hesitate to adopt a pet because they’re not sure if their kids are responsible enough. However, a sense of responsibility is exactly what your children will gain from a pet adoption. They’ll learn how to follow routines, set boundaries and clean up after another living thing. Gentle stroking and play time with pets can ease stress and frustration, allowing children to develop respect and experience positive social interactions. Caring for another life will also show kids how to feel empathy, which in turn builds stronger relationships with their peers.
- Ease anxiety and depression: Millions of adults struggle with mood disorders every single day. Cats and dogs consistently promote calm feelings and joy among individuals with anxiety, depression, PTSD and high levels of stress. The soothing purr of a kitty can calm frazzled nerves, and walking a dog encourages owners to get out of the house and socialize with friends. Play time also releases serotonin and dopamine in the brain, which are feel-good hormones that boost your overall mental wellbeing.
- Play sessions promote weight loss: Pets need exercise just as much as humans do, and they’ll have no trouble reminding you! A dog will wait expectantly by the door or fetch their leash as their way of saying it’s time to go for a walk. When a dog gets their walk in for the day, so do you. Dog owners walk more than people without pets do and are more likely to lose a few extra pounds, even when their diets stay the same.
- Reduce visits to the doctor’s office: People with pets tend to live longer and experience fewer health complications. Although a pet’s unconditional love can’t cure illness, adults who’ve suffered multiple heart attacks have been known to outlive other patients with a furry companion by their side. This is because pets have been linked to lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
- Gain confidence in your social skills: Making new friends is tough, especially if you’re a homebody who doesn’t get out much. A fur baby can help you connect with fellow pet parents because your undying love for animals is something you all have in common. You can swap training tips at group sessions, schedule play dates with other pups, meet friendly people at the dog park or even grab coffee at a cat café. It’s hard to feel anxious when you’re surrounded by adorable balls of fluff!
- Restore a sense of purpose for older adults: As we get older, the obligations that used to get us out of bed in the morning become a distant memory. Life is simpler in retirement, especially once all the kids grow up and leave the nest. Adopting a pet can help older adults feel needed and renew your sense of purpose because they require consistent exercise, food and care. Plus, senior pets are a good match for older adults because they share similar activity levels.
This list is just the beginning. When you adopt a furry companion, you’ll realize there’s no substitute for the immeasurable joy and unconditional love they bring into your life. The saying holds true—pet parents really are the ones getting rescued. You won’t be able to imagine life without your loyal fur baby!