Whether it’s a goldfish, lizard, cat, or dog, adding a pet to the family is all the rage. In fact, many people would argue that a family isn’t complete without one.
But having a feathered, scaly or furry creature in your home means more work and responsibility. So why do close to 70% of homes in the U.S. own a pet (according to a recent National Pet Owners Survey)? What makes over 80 million families share their homes with creatures both great and small?
Read on for 10 awesome reasons why you should have a family pet.
For the Health of It
Believe it or not, pet owners make fewer visits to the doctor. It’s been proven that pets lower blood pressure levels, reduce everyday stress and anxiety, lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of developing asthma (especially in children).
A cat normally purrs at a range of 20-140 Hz, which is said to be a perfect “calming” frequency. In other words, taking care of a kitty can help mellow you out, regulate your breathing and even promote bone growth!
For the Fun of It
Whether your bird is mocking your voice, your cat is chasing sunlight, or your hamster is spinning in his wheel, our pets make us laugh. Even after a hard day at work or a day home sick with the flu, as soon as you see your dog’s goofy smile, you’ll smile too.
For the Company
A pet is especially great for only children who long for a sibling to play with and confide in. What’s more, with a pet nearby, kids are more willing to tackle everyday tasks (like homework, chores, and meals) and less likely to act out. For children who don’t have many friends, a pet can act as the perfect confidant and creative playmate.
For the Confidence
Naturally shy children are often more relaxed and outgoing around a trusted pet (be it a snail or a German Shepherd). They know that no matter how they look or feel, their pet won’t hold it against them. In addition, they may be more wiling to try new things or meet new people if they have a pet to come home to that will listen (without judgment) to anything and everything that’s on their mind.
For the Safety
Children who are bullied are more likely to venture outdoors if they have their dog at their side. As for adults, a dog can provide a sense of security when walking alone at night or staying at home alone.
For the Practice
For kids, taking care of a pet is like playing at being a parent. It’s a great way for children to “try on” a parental role and learn how to be confident and kind caregivers.
For the Exercise
With a dog comes plenty of opportunity to walk, run and play together as a family. Depending on your schedule (and your mood), you could venture outdoors with the entire family unit. The littlest one can be snug in a stroller while the older siblings can take turns holding the dog’s leash and everyone can benefit from the fresh air.
For the Lessons in Responsibility
When your child takes care of a pet – feeds, waters, exercises, cleans etc. – he learns how important it is to care for something other than himself. He’ll learn what happens when he forgets a feeding and what happens when he pours his heart into caring for his animal friend. This is good practice for tougher life lessons and responsibility challenges.
For the Boost
Feeling down or low-energy? Hanging out with a pet – be it an energetic dog, a mysterious iguana or an inquisitive mouse — can instantly boost your mood. Focusing on another creature can help you to forget about your own worries.
For the Sleep
For kids who are afraid to sleep alone or who are afraid of the dark, the light of an aquarium could be the secret to a good night’s sleep. Or on a cold winter’s night, cuddling with a soft cat is bound to bring you sweet dreams.
The Pay Off
The fact that the U.S. spent close to $70 billion last year on pet products (according to the American Pet Products Association) proves that animals are vital to the American family unit.
It’s easy to see why: An animal of your own can improve your health and your mood, make you feel safe and well rested, and teach you how to be a more compassionate, responsible person.
With these types of benefits, we’d argue that the owner/pet relationship is, in fact, priceless.
About the Author
Sam Hart is a life-long animal lover, and has owned cats, dogs, rabbits, turtles and snakes. He blogs over at The Animal Academy, where he teaches people how to develop a deeper connection with their pets.