Are Pets Worth It?

I have a cat named Ting Ting. Despite the fact that he occasionally hisses at me, most days he is lovable and will excitedly greet anyone at the front door. I know that many of the people who read this will have a similar, good experience with a pet. Because of my great experience, it makes complete sense that interactions with a pet provide health benefits to their owners. Through the good company of a furry friend, I think that humans benefit from their pets in a physical and psychological way. 

As many of you know, life can be stressful. I’m not just talking about college -- problems don’t go away even when you’re done school. Not all stress is bad, but too much stress can lead to a plethora of health problems from high blood pressure to heart attacks. The good news is, pets have been proven to decrease stress in a study done by the University of Western Australia. The same study even found that petting a pet helps destress the pet at the same time! 

Dogs force their owners to carve out at least a little part of their day for exercise. Just like a dog needs a walk, so do humans. Getting up to be active, even for twenty minutes a day helps an owner’s health immensely. While the actual walking part is good for health, it also forces people to go out and possibly connect with others. People come off as more approachable when they have a dog with them. Therefore, human-pet interactions could even lead to more human to human interactions!

All around the United States, schools and universities are bringing in therapy animals. This is because of the direct link between animal interactions and mental health. The impact is even greater when someone actually owns the pet. I believe that being around another living beings, even if it is just a dog and not a human being, creates a sense of being cared for. While we care for our pets, they care for us as well by providing us with companionship. 

The effect of pets on people with depression is especially uplifting. Since there is someone that relies on them, it can motivate people to be productive when all they want to do is stay in bed. The act of caring for a pet can make a person feel accomplished, which makes them feel better about themselves. It is also proven that stroking or petting an animal helps calm people down, according to the Mental Health Foundation. Playing with an animal gives people the opportunity to just focus on the moment, which is what a lot of us need. 

So, to answer my original question, there are definitely benefits to owning a pet. Physically, they can make people more active. However, in my opinion, the more important benefit is the mental health aspect. The sense of accomplishment that comes with taking care of a pet is a great motivator for people. In return for our care, they provide us with unwavering companionship. Stress is a major problem, and if a pet can help lower stress and increase mental health, they are well worth it.