Why having a pet can be a life changer (and a life saver too).

Why having a pet can be a life changer (and a life saver too).

Having a pet has great benefits for both our physical and mental health, according to numerous studies. Some are known, but others go more unnoticed.

Perhaps the most obvious, as we have already advanced, is that pets help to avoid the feeling of loneliness. “The affection, support and loyalty that these animals show us, manifesting joy when they see us coming or claiming our attention to play, makes us feel loved showing that our company is rewarding for them, from this support and affection derives another of the benefits of having a pet: they improve self-esteem by favoring our own acceptance and positive outlook.

Today’s pace of life makes it difficult to avoid stress, a risk factor for many diseases. Did you know that pets reduce stress? Petting our pets, playing or walking with them can free us from the tensions that worry us on a daily basis, thus providing us with moments of relaxation and improving our mood. These situations cause a decrease in our body of the hormone cortisol, which is released with stress and can influence basic aspects of our rest, such as sleep,” says the psychologist.

Another of the most well-known benefits is that they encourage responsibility (by caring for and looking after your pet) and, in addition, help you to interact with other people. Responsibility can be extended to other areas of life, encouraging the establishment of routines and schedules.

They help fight diseases

According to numerous studies, animals have the ability to mitigate those feelings that we value as negative, in addition to providing us with their unconditional support, so they could help fight diseases such as depression. In addition, when we look at our pet, our brain releases a greater amount of oxytocin, also known as the happiness hormone.

Currently, pets such as dogs participate in what are known as animal-assisted interventions, which consist of incorporating an animal into a therapeutic or educational process as a complement to it and which is developed in a multidisciplinary way.

They currently work in many areas, for example, with the elderly with depression, Alzheimer’s and dementia; with young people and adults with mental illness, with people with autism, intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy. As well as in hospitals, day centers, residences, and schools, among others.

During this lockdown, this measure implemented almost everywhere in the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the short dog walk became a moment of relaxation, almost freedom, in a complex situation in which we no longer knew how to spend our time at home. Those months, for those who regularly live with animals, served to confirm something they already knew: their dog, but also their cat, fish, parakeet or guinea pig, to give a few examples, are much more than just a pet.

When is it best to have a pet?

The advantages of having a pet are beyond several and we can highlight the positive impact it can have on certain population groups, for example, in families with young children, where they enhance the development of the child both personally and socially. Also in the elderly, where they promote self-care for themselves and the animal. The role of these animals in adolescents is also remarkable. These children are in a difficult age of change and evolution, therefore, having a pet on which they have to focus their attention and is their responsibility helps them to learn different aspects of care and commitment, as well as support them in the expression of their emotions.

Adopt or buy?

If you’re considering getting a pet, this question is probably on your mind: is it better to buy or adopt? Both options can be valid although may be considered quite controversial. Nonetheless, what we can tell you is that when it comes to making a decision, keep in mind that in the United States alone, shelters house 6.5 million dogs and cats. In fact, during the lockdown period, adoptions skyrocketed in the United States and the rest of the world.

Before doing so, remember also that receiving the unconditional love of a pet entails a series of obligations: identify it, take care of its health and nutrition, and, by all means, NEVER ABANDON IT!