Furry friends bring many benefits to their owners

Community Times

Owning a pet can be a fulfilling experience for adults and children alike. A pet matched to the right family can bring years of joy and happy memories. There are a few things that compare to the unconditional love of a pet. They do a great job of bringing families closer together and can enrich the lives of their owners in so many ways.

Needless to say, people who have a pet tend to be happier and healthier than those without. Why is that you ask? Read on for some of the best benefits to owning a pet.

Improve your mental health — Pets provide companionship that can help combat feelings of loneliness. If you live by yourself or work opposite shifts of others in your home, life can get quite lonely. That is, unless you have a pet. Cats and dogs make great companions — they'll always be waiting for you to come home and they'll be happy to lend a nonjudgmental ear should you want to vent about your terrible day.

Improve your physical health — Most animals need some type of exercise every day, which usually means you're exercising as well. Whether it be walking your dog twice a day or running back and forth with the cat as she chases a toy. This increased activity not only improves your physical health, but also combats depression and makes you happier. Pets have the ability to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Even the simple act of watching fish swim in an aquarium can lower blood pressure and heart rate. Not to mention that some dogs and cats have been known to detect diseases such as cancer just with their sense of smell. There are numerous stories of pet owners whose lives were saved after they noticed their pet was constantly pawing at, sniffing or even licking a tumor hidden underneath the skin.

Make friends — Animals have the ability to turn strangers into friends. You've probably noticed that it's much easier to strike up a conversation with a person who has an adorable animal in tow than someone who does not. Having a pet is a great way to meet new people and create bonds quickly, especially if you're not great at small talk. These social interactions can increase feelings of happiness and help you become more connected to your community. The pet owner community is an incredibly friendly one.

Learn responsibility — Pet ownership is awesome but it's also serious business. Pets are living creatures that need regular care and attention, just like humans. Caring for an animal does require an ongoing commitment involving your finances, your time and your love. With the right guidance, a pet can teach children about the qualities of responsibility and dependability.

Learn compassion — Owning a pet is also an opportunity to teach your children a valuable life lesson about caring for something other than themselves. Kindness and compassion are two of the best qualities a person can have. And as an added bonus, pets are great at teaching children about relationships and how friendships develop. What's more fun than a furry friend waiting for you to play with after school?

Lower stress levels — Life these days can be stressful and high levels of anxiety can lead to numerous health problems. Luckily, pets can really help us relax. Petting your cat or watching fish swim in a tank can make your worries melt away. The amazing news is that having a furry pal can decrease the chances of suffering a heart attack later in life.

Increase security — Not everyone likes being home alone, but having a cat or dog there can make your feel a lot safer. Plus, burglars are less likely to target a house that's home to a dog. Hence the popularity of "Beware of Dog" signs that many homeowners post. Some breeds make excellent guard dogs and will even protect you when you're out for a run or walk. And it's not just dogs. Cats also have been known to scare away burglars and stray dogs.

Help people with disabilities — Those with disorders such as autism often find it difficult talking to fellow human beings, but they don't seem to experience those challenges when communicating with animals. Service animals are skilled at helping people with disabilities to cope with their everyday challenges. They provide love, independence and self-confidence.

Looking after a pet is a big responsibility, but the benefits make all the hard work worthwhile. Whether you choose to keep a cat, dog, fish or guinea pig, I am certain that they'll be a lifelong friend!

Danielle Moser is a Reisterstown resident and can be reached via email at threepeasservices@gmail.com.

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