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5 Ways Having a Pet Can Change Your Life

Mikkie Mills Jan 11, 2020
It is National Walk Your Dog Month in January. This means cat and dog owners alike will most likely spend the next month taking adorable selfies with their pets and engaging in non-stop cooing about their pets' attributes.
This also means that those without a pet to call their own might be feeling a little left out. After all, February brings National Pet Dental Health Month followed closely by March's Adopted Guinea Pig Month and April's National Heartworm Awareness Month.
So, if you're on the fence about investing in your first pet, check out these five benefits and way pets can change your life. After all, you wouldn't want to be celebrating National Pet Preparedness Month alone. 

Pets Relieve Depression

A recent study from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that pet owners have better overall well being than non-owners. Owning dogs specifically promoted psychological and therapeutic well being. Additionally, caring for a pet gives human beings a sense of purpose, as well as a genuine connection with another being.
Because of this high level of companionship, owning a pet has been shown to lower depression and even post-traumatic stress disorder. This has been coined a "Super-Bond" by Pet for Vets, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing war veterans with rescue dogs.

Pets Lower Stress & Anxiety

When you are petting, cuddling or sleeping with pets, a powerful endorphin called "oxytocin" is released. The release of this neurochemical can decrease stress hormones and instantly have a calming effect on individuals. It's the same endorphin released when you share consensual physical contact with a loved one.
However, many studies find that the oxytocin released from interactions with pets can even overpower releases from interactions with relatives or significant others. In fact, in the early 2000s, it was discovered that people were more willing to conduct difficult tasks in the presence of a pet than a loved one. 

Pets Prevent Allergies

Studies find that being exposed to dogs and cats at a young age can prevent pet allergies later in life. Children who had a pet in their home before they were at least six months old, were less likely to develop hay fever, eczema, asthma and additional allergic reactions that those who had not been exposed to any animals.

Pets Foster Connection & Socialization

For individuals living alone or without much human connection, having a pet can promote socialization outside of the home. Owning a dog in particular comes with the added responsibility of daily walks, which will automatically increase physical activity and lower cholesterol.
Additionally, since humans are naturally pet lovers, taking your pooch for a walk can draw others into conversation with you. How better to share your wealth of knowledge about your furry friend?  Finally, for children with autism, pet interactions may sooth and decrease social anxiety.

Pets Teach Responsibility

Owning a pet is a huge responsibility since you have ultimately been placed in charge of the life of another being. When this responsibility is given to adolescents at a young age, studies show that they grow up further understanding care and keeping of the self and others.
In fact, a recent study found that teenage pet owners with diabetes were able to manage their disease better than their non-pet owning counterparts. While it might be a little risky to entrust your seven-year-old with a golden retriever puppy, try starting them off with a hamster or beta fish.
While April 30th may be National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day, there is no bad time to give an animal a new home. Head down to your local no-kill shelter and make the choice to adopt your new best friend. Whether you are a dog person, cat person or rabbit person, the benefits of bringing home a pet cannot be overstated.