Looking for a Little Company? Here Are the Best Reasons for Keeping Pets

Life can get lonely for all of us at times. And many of us realized this firsthand during the initial shutdown caused by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

In fact, recent reports have shown that many people developed depression during the pandemic, and cases of depression actually tripled during the last couple of years. And this is thought to be linked not only to heightened stress and anxiety, but also to longer bouts of loneliness and solitude.

We humans are social creatures and we crave companionship. And even if you’re the unsocial type, you can still suffer from prolonged periods of isolation.

Thankfully, one way to remedy this is by having a pet to keep you company. Further, there are many additional benefits of keeping pets, and we’ll discuss a few of these in the following article.

Health Benefits

You might be surprised to learn that when you buy a puppy and begin caring for your pet, you’ll be exposed to significant health benefits that are actually backed by many scientific studies. In fact, many of these benefits can be accessed with the company of any pet, even while keeping fish. A few of these benefits are as follows:

  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Lowered triglyceride levels
  • Decreased anxiety
  • Lowered symptoms of PTSD
  • Better immune health

Studies have also shown that simply sitting and watching the fish swimming in a fish tank helps one to develop feelings of tranquility and calmness. And with the combination of the sounds of water and watching your fish swim, this can be just as relaxing as a meditation ritual.

Additionally, depending on the type of pet you have, you’ll also be more prone to exercise. For instance, mini Australian Shepherd puppies are smaller and very energetic while Pugs are small, but need a lot less exercise.

You might also find that you’re more active simply because you also have to clean up after your pet quite often as well.

Increase Motivation

It’s easy to lose motivation when you feel stuck in the same boring daily routine. Lack of motivation is also one of the most prominent symptoms of various mental health struggles. But getting yourself an animal companion can help combat this feeling.

Pets are a responsibility, but it’s a good responsibility when you love them. Your pet can give you another reason to wake up in the morning and come home in the evening. An adorable and loveable reason, regardless of what kind of animal you get.

Imagine waking up to a cat sitting on your bed or a dog eagerly waiting for your attention. You need to get out of bed because your pet needs breakfast—even when you don’t. Next is playtime. After that, maybe you want to take your pet out for some exercise. Then you decide it’s time to pet-proof your home because they figured out how to open the kitchen drawers.

Keeping a pet is interesting. They each have their own personality and can bring you something new each day. Once you start living with your little companion, there’s a good chance you’ll find a reason to do everything else. 

Many pet owners find motivation in the care they give to their pets. You want to look for the perfect cat scratching pole, find the best dog toys, or hunt down the perfect fish tank accessory. And then, you might discover that you’re feeling in better spirits and more motivated in general.

Cognitive Function

A healthy brain is essential for optimal health and for a healthy lifestyle. And studies have shown that the average adult needs approximately 150 minutes of aerobic exercise each week to maintain good health.

Exercise is fundamental to cognitive health. In fact, those who perform moderate to intense exercise over the course of their lives on a regular basis are much less likely to develop cognitive dysfunction associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Keeping a dog for a pet allows you to engage in regular exercise each day, especially if you keep an active dog that loves to run and walk. And if you walk your dog for just 30 minutes each day, this adds up to 210 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise each week, more than enough to keep you in good health, and to keep your cognitive function in check.

Dealing with PTSD

Keeping a dog or a pet is often one of the top recommendations for those who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). And this is based on some interesting studies.

In an Australian study, a group of 199 patients who had serious issues with depression, anxiety or severe PTSD were given a Psychiatric Assistance Dog (PAD) to help with their difficulties. And an astonishing 94 percent of those in the study reported a reduction of anxiety.

The findings from the aforementioned study have been reproduced in various other settings. And what researchers have found is that the tactile stimulation from petting a dog or cat can actually reduce stress levels and cortisol production in the body.

As such, those who deal with serious anxiety or other forms of PTSD can easily benefit just by petting a dog or a cat, and through daily interaction with their pets.

Improving Your Social Life

Other studies suggest that having a companion at home can also help you to be more comfortable in social situations. And this is because you won’t be overstimulated by social interactions once you leave an empty home.

Additionally, having a pet also allows you the opportunity to get out and mingle with other pet owners at dog parks, city events, and at dog friendly restaurants as well. For example, if you bring your dog out to eat with you at a dog friendly restaurant, others interested in dogs are more likely to come say hello and meet your pet. And this can open the door for greater social interactions in many places.

Keeping pets is a great way to enrich your life just like eating berries is and to offer you additional stimulation. And this is especially helpful if you live on your own, have no children, or if you’ve reached your golden years and don’t have as many visitors in your life as you once did.

All in all, the benefits of keeping pets include far more than what’s mentioned here. But the best benefits as listed above include those which improve your overall health and quality of life.

Megan Liu

Holding a Master's in Animal Science from Texas A&M University, Megan Liu has spent over 15 years in animal behavior research and rehabilitation. She joined our editorial team in 2020, bringing a wealth of knowledge from her field experiences and academic studies. Megan is also a certified dog trainer, offering a unique pet care and training perspective. Her off-duty hours are spent volunteering at animal shelters and enjoying long nature walks.

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