A pet is defined by Wikipedia as an animal kept for companionship and enjoyment or a household animal, as opposed to wild animals or to livestock, laboratory animals, working animals or sport animals, which are kept for economic or productive reasons. The most popular pets are noted for their loyal or playful characteristics, for their attractive appearance, or for their song.
Pets also generally seem to provide their owners with non-trivial health benefits; keeping pets has been shown to help relieve stress to those who like having animals around. Studies have shown that it can increase life expectancy by 3 years. Studies have also shown that owning a pet can reduce the risk of heart attack by 2% and there is now a medically-approved class of “therapy animals”, mostly dogs, which are brought to visit confined humans. Walking a dog can provide both the owner and the dog with exercise, fresh air, and social interaction. There is nothing like a puppy in the park to make new friends.
Some of the primary health benefits that have been frequently studied (National Institute of Health and the US Department of Health and Human Services) are:
- The role of Pets in Cardiovascular Health
- The Role of Pets in Child Development
- Health Correlates of Pets in Older Persons
- The Role of Pet’s in Social and Therapeutic Effects
- Safety and Risk in people-pet relationships
Studies on human-animal relationships originated with a focus on the beneficial aspects of pets. In time, four general research areas developed, including:
- historical descriptions of human-animal interactions,
- demographics and explanations of pet ownership,
- physiological and psychological responses of people interacting with animals, and
- Animals as facilitators of psychological or physical therapy.
The major questions about the benefits of Pets are the following:
- For whom is animal interaction most beneficial?
- For whom and where is animal interaction problematic?
- How is contact with animals beneficial? and
- Are different species of animals, and even plants, important to human health?
We will leave the search for specific data up to others for now. After years of study someone will find that there is a recessive gene or chromosome, or maybe a string of DNA, that is attached at the heart that bonds us to a specific species or breed of pets. It is a daily responsibility and a growing relationship to enjoy with pets. So when considering a pet, the best answer is to ask yourself good questions:
- Are you ready for a commitment that will last the lifetime of the pet?
- Can you provide the environment that is appropriate and safe for the “nature of the beast”?
- Do you have the resources to invest? (time, money, & love)
If you have answered “yes” to these questions, then do it! Owning a pet is an adventure that is filled with wonderful moments, great memories, and stories. Just ask any pet owner “how’s Fido” and then listen and watch. It would be a lie to say that there are not moments of frustration and maybe anger, but those are just passing emotions in the relationship that you will build with your pet. Choose your pet wisely, treat them fairly, and your rewards will be tenfold from the seeds you plant.
We love our pets and will share photos and stories. We say they’re pets but they really become part of the family. There are a lot more species that we do not own or know about. Tell us about your Bird, Cat, Dog, Horse, Fish, Frog, Snake, Gerbil, Snake, ferret, (or other pet) and help others that may find our pages in search of answers.