Pets provide their owners with unconditional love. This can be especially helpful for a person who is depressed or grieving the loss of a loved one. According to the American Humane Association the human-animal bond has been a source of solace and relief throughout history for those who suffer from physical or emotional pain.

While pets are not a cure for depression, they can offer comfort and support when you need it most. Many experts agree that pets help ease stress. Simply petting your animals can be a soothing activity. One study says that dog owners exercise more often, sleep better and report overall better health. Other studies say that having a dog may be good for your heart health, and pets have been known to lower blood pressure.

Older adults often experience loneliness and lose the desire and ability to develop new relationships. Pets can ease that loneliness and provide you with a sense of purpose. Caring for an animal can increase the quantity and quality of social interactions amongst other pet owners. Pets provide people with an opportunity for an engaging conversation with someone new, possibly leading to new friendships and activities.

While dogs are great, they are not the only pets who can bring a smile to your face. Cats, birds, fish and other animals can also provide the emotional and physical benefits associated with pet therapy. If you consider adopting a pet for yourself, or for a loved one, be sure to consider the following:

  • Type of pet. Think about the type of activity level and commitment required to care for the type of animal you would like to adopt. Are you able to take care of a pet who needs to be walked, groomed, etc.? Keep in mind that younger animals – particularly puppies – require a lot more energy, patience and training. Many older animals are available at your local shelter, just waiting to be your special companion.
  • Time commitment throughout the lifetime of a pet. Depending on size, breed and health issues, dogs can live up to 15 years – some longer. Cats have been known to reach the ripe old age of 20. Do you plan to continue living in an environment where pet ownership is possible? Do you have a backup plan if you can no longer take care of your pet?
  • Allergies. Allergies to pet dander may pose health issues. Pets can also track pollen, dust, mites and other allergens into your home.
  • Cost. Owning a pet can put a strain on your budget. You need to think about what you can afford when it comes to food, grooming, vet bills and medications. Check with a veterinarian ahead of time to find out the cost of annual checkups, as well as care for health issues that may be common in the type of pet you choose. As with people, unknown conditions that require additional care are possible.

Published | Category: News.