Our lifestyles changed dramatically during the COVID pandemic, in some ways that many of us have cherished and have strived to hold onto. Family pets were the big winners when it came to this lifestyle shift – with twice daily walks, a warm lap to curl up in, and pats on demand becoming the norm. Those without pets (or who had been coveting one for a while) also made the leap, with RSPCA animal adoption rates in some cities doubling amid the pandemic. Our four (or two) legged friends not only make great pandemic companions, but better our lives in so many other ways. Here’s how having a pet can change your life.
Stress melts away.
Interacting with animals has been shown to decrease levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) and boost oxytocin levels (the feel-good hormone). This combination can lower blood pressure and promote a sense of calm. Everything from watching fish swim in a tank to patting your pet pooch can send you into this serene state.
Excuse proof exercise.
Dogs in particular provide endless motivation to get outside at the crack of dawn for a walk whatever the weather. In fact, research has shown that dog owners walk on average 22 minutes more per day than non-dog owners. Other playful pets like kittens, rabbits and even some birds will also encourage you to get outdoors.
Research tells us that having a pet in the home can decrease a child’s likelihood of developing allergies by up to 33%. This same research also concluded that children exposed to pets early in life tend to have stronger overall immune systems.
Serious health helpers.
Feel good factor aside, dogs have become crucial helpers for those with vision and mobility issues. In recent years, dogs have been heralded for their success in detecting low or high blood sugar levels in diabetes sufferers and assisting children that experience frequent seizures. There’s also plenty of research underway looking at how dogs may be able to detect diseases like cancer in humans – all thanks to their super sniffers.
Bringing companionship and connection.
Pets bring a sense of purpose, connection and companionship that can drive away feelings of loneliness and depression – particularly if you live alone. Caring for an animal helps you feel needed and wanted. There’s nothing judgmental about the unwavering love you’ll get from a pet, and nothing beats coming home to a wagging tail or purring puss.
Pets are great conversation starters.
Companionship aside, pets can provide their owners with opportunities to connect with others through a shared interest. If you’ve ever walked a dog, you’ll know how many stops you’ll make to talk to other dog owners! In fact, according to this study, pet owners were 60% more likely to get to know people in their neighbourhood they hadn’t met before, compared to non-pet owners. Pets are the perfect ice breaker – whether it is during a casual stroll, at a pet shop, a training class or helping to find someone who shares your love for dogs!
They can teach us a thing or two.
Having a pet teaches children (and adults) how to be responsible for something other than themselves. Pets need food, water and love, and some more than others will need exercise too. There’s also grooming and cleaning up to be done. Pets depend on their owners to thrive, which teaches us the humbling act of selflessly helping others.
So, which pet is right for you?
Think it’s time for an animal companion to join your household? It’s important to choose a pet that suits your lifestyle and living situation. Here’s a few things to consider:
- How much spare time do you have to spend with a pet, and how much time will they be alone for? Are daily walks with a dog realistic, or would a passive pet like a fish be more suitable? If you’re away from home frequently for work or socially, a more independent pet like a cat might suit.
- Do you live in an apartment or house with a backyard? This will play a big part in determining what’s right for your situation. If you’ve got plenty of space, you might consider chickens, a pet pig, or a larger dog. Apartment life is more suited to a cat or a pet that lives in a cage or aquarium.
- If you have children or elderly in the house, take these into consideration. Large dogs can easily knock over those that are unsteady on their feet, and you may need to supervise small children around a pet.
If you are considering growing your family, here is some more information to help you select the right pet for you.
Pets can change your life.
Despite all the benefits of adding a pet to your household, it’s important to remember that owning a pet is only beneficial if you have the time, money and genuine interest in adding a pet to your family. Owning a pet is a major commitment that will last for the animal’s lifetime – which for a dog can be 10-15 years!
Starting out small with a fish or a small, caged animal is a great idea for first time pet owners. You will get a feel for how it fits in with your lifestyle, and whether taking the leap to a furry feline or family pooch is right for your situation. Remember, pounds and pet rescue shelters are rewarding places to find a furry companion – often the staff have a good feel for the animals’ personalities and can help find your perfect pet match.
If your current abode doesn’t meet your pet or hobby farm dreams, contact your local First National Real Estate office to find a home to suit your new family – pets, farm animals and all.
This information is general in nature. If you are seriously considering a new pet remember to do your homework, so you fully understand their needs. We advise you to consult with your local veterinary clinic or pet store for more information and advice.