Pets have been kept for centuries. Statistics from various sources indicate North Americans own millions of dogs, cats, birds, small mammals, and reptiles.
Pets’ affable nature and loving looks are enough for many people to welcome them into their homes, but the benefits of having a pet extends beyond their appearances and temperaments.
•Pets can help prevent loneliness. Loneliness affects people of all ages, but it is particularly problematic among seniors. Older adults who may be isolated can benefit from having a pet around. According to a study published in Aging & Mental Health, older adults who owned pets were 36 percent less likely to say they were lonely compared to those who didn’t have an animal companion.
•Pets can save lives. Pets can be trained to perform various tasks around the house and in the community. Rescue animals assist in finding people after natural disasters. Medical alert pets can help people with debilitating illnesses and assist physically impaired people with everyday tasks.
•Pets help lower allergy risks. Keeping pets around can reduce a child’s likelihood of developing allergies by as much as 33 percent, according to a study by pediatrician James E. Gern that was published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. People exposed early on to animals tend to develop stronger immune systems overall.
•Pets provide socializtion opportunities. A pet can be the common denominator to strike up new friendships and connect with others. Whether walking around the neighborhood or being part of a pet obedience class or interest group, pets can help their owners expand their social circles.
•Pets can help combat stress. Talking to or stroking a pet can make stress easier to handle. A study from researchers at the State University of New York at Buffalo found that, when conducting a stressful task, people experienced less stress when their pets were with them. Various other studies and data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found having a pet around can lower blood pressure, ease anxiety and may even help to lessen aches and pains. Pets provide unconditional love, which can be beneficial to someone facing depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.
•Pets help teach responsibility.
Taking care of a pet can help children and adults become more responsible. According to the American Pet Product Association’s National Pet Owners Survey, 58 percent of pet owners say their pets help teach their kids to be responsible through routine care, exercise and feeding of the animal.
Furry, finned and feathered friends help make a house a home. These companions are more than just pets; they’re often cherished family members. So, it should come as no surprise that, come the holidays, people want to lavish extra attention on their animals by way of presents.
The American Pet Products Association says pet owners spend billions of dollars on their pets each year. The majority of pet owners plan to gift their pets on holidays such as Valentine’s Day, Halloween and Christmas. DogTime.com says that pet presents are not a North American phenomenon, either.
Pet owners in the United Kingdom are expected to spend the equivalent of $46 U.S. per pet on gifts. According to data from PricewaterhouseCoopers, shoppers between the ages of 17 and 21 are willing to spend more than anyone else ($70) on holiday gifts for their pets.
While dog owners are more likely to buy their pets gifts, cat owners have been closing that gap over the years. Some pet parents even offer Christmas cards or hang Christmas stockings for their pets.
Pets are more than mere companions. In fact, pets can offer numerous health and well-being benefits to people of all ages.