Having a pet is a life time commitment, which normally means the life time of the pet. However, most of us are unaware of the numerous health and mental benefits of having a pet. By the way, this article is primarily meant for people who do or are able to keep a pet, but those who cannot keep pets due to health or other issues are also welcome to have a good read!

When a pet is mentioned, you would automatically think about being able to snuggle up to or pat a warm furry friend, or feed a goldfish. In recent years, more scientific studies are being done to explore the bond between humans and animals, and the unconditional love and devotion pets seem to have for their owners.

Scientists and have found that pets can tune into human behavior and emotions, with dogs ranking high on this list. Dogs have the intelligence and ability to understand many human commands like “sit”, “stand”, “come”, etc. They are able to interpret body language, gestures and even the tone of our voices.

Have you ever noticed how your dog looks into your eyes? Believe it or not, dogs are able to sense your emotional state of mind, and know exactly when they should provide comfort to their owners, or stay clear.

Children who grow up with pets are more secure and loving. Older adults with pets are generally more alert and active, as they need to remember and plan routine tasks like feeding times and walk times for their pets. Pets also provide much needed companionship for lonely or introvert people.

For people suffering from depression, stress, bipolar disorder and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), having a pet, normally a dog in this case, will bring about many positive changes such as:

Companionship – while isolation and loneliness can bring about symptoms of depression, having a pet around provides companionship. Just providing the necessary care to raise a pet can make you feel wanted. Many cat and dog owners talk to their pets, even to the point of discussing their problems, t even though it may seem like a one-sided discussion to the uninitiated. Playful interaction with your pet leads to some exercise which and improve your immune system as well. Pet antics will make you laugh, uplifting your mood.

Exercise – studies have shown dog owners are more likely to stick to daily exercise routines, and the dogs are fit as well. Taking your dog out for walks, runs, or even hikes are fun activities that your dog will thoroughly enjoy. And you have the added benefit of some cardio and losing some weight while clocking up the miles as well.

Social scene – taking your dog out for a walk around the neighborhood or in the dog park where other dog owners are is a great ice breaker. Dog owners have lots to talk about and exchange views on their pets; it can be from training tips, feeding or medical issues.

Sensory relief – scientific studies have shown petting your dog or stroking your cat can lower your blood pressure and put you in a calmer mood.

Medical issues – specially trained dogs can help in many medical conditions. They can be trained to calm hyperactive children. Dogs have also been trained to raise the alarm before an adult or child goes into a stroke, an epileptic fit or even a panic attack.

Children who have pets have been found to have lessened risk of allergies, higher levels of responsibilities, compassion, empathy (the ability to understand and share the feelings of others), and a positive image.

Having a pet at home can reduce separation anxiety in children when parents have to go out for a while. Taking the pet out for a walk gives children some much needed exercise away from the computer as well.

An interesting positive point to note is people or children who have pets are found to be able to build better relationships with others.

It goes without saying that having a pet is a major commitment. One must understand pets cost money to maintain, require attention, can be destructive (there goes the carpet or sofa!), and pet owners need to have unconditional responsibility and love to handle all of this. If you feel the benefits of having a pet outweigh the risks, and that you are able to cope with the commitments, do go ahead and get a pet. Look into adopting a dog or puppy from your local pet shelter rather than buy a puppy from a pet store, as these mostly come from puppy mills.

By Aaron
5th June 19:55

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