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If you are a pet owner like myself, you know how wonderful pets can be.  Our family has a dog, a 7 year old Wheaton Terrier named Bailey and a goldfish that we think is about 9 years old who we affectionately call “Lil’ Brother”. The dog is a lot of work, the fish, not so much.  Either way, we love them both!  There is no doubt that there are benefits to having a pet.  Consider the following:

Companionship 

  • Pets provide unconditional love and are never unavailable or off duty. They are the perfect pal and a real antidote to loneliness.

Schedule

  • The routine of caring for a pet can give structure and purpose to daily life. Caring for a pet keeps you responsible and on a schedule.

Exercise

  • Everyone benefits from regular physical exercise. Having a pet (like a dog who needs to be walked every day), can be a great way to make walking a part of your daily routine.

Getting Out

  • Some pets require regular activity that takes you out of the home. Trips to the vet, groomer, dog park, pet store, obedience classes, etc. are all ways to get involved in social activities and a good way to meet new people.

Physically and Mentally Beneficial

  • Studies have shown that regular bonding with a pet can relieve anxiety and reduce stress levels, heart rate, and blood pressure.

Self-assurance and Purpose

  • Your pet needs you! When you decide to become a pet owner, you promise to take care of your pet. It can be very satisfying to take care of another life. It reminds you that you are important and are valued.

Before getting a pet (whether you purchase or adopt), make sure the pet fits your personality and schedule.  Take these questions into consideration before diving in:

  • Have you owned a pet before? Don’t be in for a surprise.  Make sure you know what to expect in terms of time, cost, and care of the pet.  It’s best to be an experienced and prepared owner.
  • Are you set in your ways? You have to be willing to make changes and be flexible.
  • Do you have physical limitations? Dogs are best for active people, while cats or caged pets may be better for those who aren’t as physically active.
  • Is the pet the right age? While cute, a puppy or kitten may be difficult since they require more attention. However, it’s also important that your pet isn’t too old since it may develop physical limitations or become ill.
  • Is the pet healthy? It’s important that any pet be examined by a professional and have regular care.
  • Can you afford a pet? There are ongoing costs associated with pets (food, veterinary care, grooming, medications, pet insurance, etc.).  Make sure you’ve considered these expenses.

Owning a pet is certainly not for everyone.  While you know yourself best, ask your family and doctor if this is the right decision for you and your health.  While there are some drawbacks with pet ownership, the rewards are far greater!  Pets can provide us with a better quality of life and improve aging in place.