You might already know how great life with a pet is if you currently have a pet in your home, or you remember that it was really fun to have a cat when you were a kid. Maybe you don't have one yet and you need to be convinced that all the trouble and the commitment is worth it. We're mostly talking about the furry types of pets here since those are a little more involved in your life than a fish might be. Hey, even owning a fish can have some of its own benefits and can be a good option depending on your life circumstances like space, time, etc. Even owning a plant has some of the same benefits of having a pet. But it doesn't compare to a furry puppy, now does it?! Of course, there is a lot of responsibility involved in pet ownership and you shouldn't take the decision lightly or make it on a whim. But read on to see why that can actually be considered a really great thing. Here are 15 reasons why life is absolutely better with a pet.
15 You Always Have Someone To Cuddle
If you own a cat or dog, you always have someone to cuddle, even when there aren't humans around to do it. Actually, make that if you have a dog, dogs are always willing to cuddle. Cats sometimes are but they're more likely to need to do it on their own schedule that seems to be based on just their moods alone. It's not like they're doing anything besides napping and cleaning themselves. But at some point in the day, your cat is bound to want a little bit of a cuddle. Dogs are pretty much always down, and they'll sleep in bed with you if you actually want them to. Cuddling with animals has a similar effect on the body to cuddling with people, the body produces serotonin which makes you feel good and relaxed, as well as reduces the levels of the hormone cortisol that is being released. Both of those actions together can reduce your stress levels inside and out, and just make you a happier, more relaxed person.
14 You're Responsible For Another Life
That might sound a little intense right away, but it's true and it's awesome. Responsibility is a good thing because it forces you to rise to the occasion in a lot of different ways. There's nothing wrong with living a life where you're number one because let's be honest no one else is going to be able to take better care of us than we can take care of ourselves. However, sometimes we're actually better able to care for ourselves when we have higher levels of responsibility to the world and to other people because we make commitments and are then held accountable to them. Without commitments, we don't necessarily have to be accountable, and while we like to think that we make the best decisions all the time without having a fire lit under our butt, that isn't necessarily true. There's actually a psychological reason for this: when we have other options we don't seem to go after our goals as seriously. So adding a bit of responsibility and structure to your life for a fun reason like a pet, that can be a really powerful thing.
13 You're Forced To Clean
Part of the responsibility of owning a pet extends to the fact that you have to keep up with cleaning as well. If you're living totally on your own, it can get easy to be lazy about picking up after yourself or doing the dishes as you dirty them, but it can be a little different when there are animals involved. Mainly because they cause huge messes. Furry pets might pee and poo on your floor, and even fish tanks grow a crazy amount of weird stuff in them that needs to be kept up with. If you don't handle these things your place is going to smell in an instant and also be uninhabitable for both you and your pet. If you're going to get out the cleaning supplies to poop scoop and sanitize the living room floor, you might as well sweep up the entire room while you're at it. Of course, there is way more work involved the more living objects that stay in a place together, but you actually might end up keeping a cleaner house overall which is very mature of you.
12 You Have To Budget
Pets are not as expensive as children, but they can still be pretty expensive and require the same thoughtful budgeting considerations. Just like you aren't going to feed yourself and not feed a child, you're also going to make sure that you have food for your pet before you splurge on some nice wine or something. It's the whole looking after another life thing, you're in charge and not having the funds to take care of your pet is not going to be an option. This can make you evaluate a lot of your spending, earning, and saving habits in general, which hopefully will lead to some positive changes that will spill over into the rest of your life as well. The average dog costs $1,270 to own the first year, while the average cat is around $1,070. Pets need food, toys, shots, grooming, vet bills if anything goes wrong, boarding if you go out of town, etc. These little cuties are living and breathing things that require a lot of maintenance and attention.
11 They're Super Loyal
Just as you would do anything to take care of your dog, they are completely loyal right back. You've probably heard some of the many stories about dogs going to great lengths to find their owners after they got lost somehow. One such story is Bobbie the Wonderdog who accidentally got left behind and managed to find his family... 2,800 miles later. In 2013 a cat managed to find her family and found them after two months and over 200 miles of travel. That's some serious dedication, not to mention great smell or spidey senses or whatever else is going on. Could you find your mom if she was randomly deposited somewhere on the other side of the country? Probably not. Dogs can't even ask for directions, it's all a bit of a mystery but a pretty wonderful one. Scientists think that dogs mostly do it with their sense of smell, but that cats might be relying on some form of magnetism since they have some iron in their ears that can point them in the right direction. I still don't understand how that works, but okay.
10 You Choose Each Other
The process of getting a pet can be a pretty cool one, and a lot of people feel like their pets chose them as much as they chose the pet. Pets often come into people's lives at the right time and you might even hear people saying that owning a pet saved their life in different ways. If for example, you go to a pet adoption spot and check out the dogs available, you'll probably think they're all adorable. But it becomes clear pretty quickly when you actually have a bond with one or not because it goes both ways. I know because I've experienced it. I accompanied my friend on her hunt for a dog once which didn't prove fruitful for her, but I bonded with and instantly fell in love with a one-eyed chihuahua... that I couldn't take home. My apartment manager wouldn't budge on the no pet rule, which led to me dramatically crying over the injustice in the shower, and no joke I still think about that dog a couple years later. We connected.
9 You Can Heal From Depression
If you're prone to depression or tend to get down in the dumps, owning a pet can literally change your life, which is why therapists prescribe dogs for emotional reasons. Pets love you unconditionally, and will even listen to you talk if you feel the need to talk to someone who isn't capable of judging you while you do so. The act of caring for a pet has a way of taking you outside of yourself to give you some perspective which is often much needed when we're feeling down. A lot of depression has to do with feelings of isolation or lacking connection and meaning in the rest of the world, which is because we get trapped inside of our experience and minds and have a harder time seeing the bigger picture beyond our own personal troubles. Owning a pet can be one of the things that pull you out of that place. Having to care for someone else means less time stuck in your own circular thoughts, and it also can provide you with a sense of accomplishment for doing so, that will keep the momentum going in the right direction.
8 Pets Are Good For Your Heart
Pets are good for the emotional heart, but they're also good for the physical heart, too Maybe there's some link between the two that we're not aware of?! There have been a lot of different studies that researched the links between pet ownership and heart health, and they're pretty compelling. One such study took place over the course of 20 years and found that people who had never owned a cat were 40 percent more likely to die of a heart attack than those who had. Another study found that if people had survived heart attacks, they had a higher survival rate a year later if they owned a dog. Pet owners have an overall lower rate of dying from any cardiac related disease than non pet owners do. As for why there are a lot of reasons. Pet owners might be more active, but they also tend to be happier. The good feelings that go along with pet ownership can reduce the heart rate and the blood pressure, both of which help to support the health of the heart.
7 They Can Make You Feel Safe
Dogs are awesome watchdogs, of course, which can be a huge boost in comfort if you live on your own or with people. We can always feel safer. Dogs are born with a watchful eye and will always be paying attention to anyone new coming towards your home. That's not to say that all dogs will actually be able to help defend you in the event that something went wrong, but a lot of them will bark at strangers when they can keep the bad guys away, as well as just alert you to the fact that someone is nearby when you aren't expecting any visitors. You can sleep comfortably knowing that your dog will be sure to let you know if anyone suspicious is around. If you're looking for a watchdog specifically, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, and Scottish Terriers are considered to be the top options, but there are actually a lot of different breeds to choose from like the Chow Chow, Dogue de Bordeaux, Belgian Malinois, Belgian Sheepdog, Belgian Tervuren, Tibetan Mastiff, Anatolian Shepherd Dog, and the Black Russian Terrier.
6 You'll Get More Active
Some studies have found that pet owners tend to get more exercise than the average gym goer who doesn't own a dog. People who own dogs tend to be more active in general as well as take more walks than people who don't own dogs. Of course, for this to be true it requires that you be the person who is actually doing the dog walking, not handing the leash over to someone else. One study found that 60 percent of dog owners got enough exercise to meet the federal criteria for what is considered regular moderate or vigorous physical activity. To compare, only about a third of people without dogs regularly got that much exercise, which comes out to about 30 minutes five days a week. That might not seem like a whole lot of exercise if you're a fitness fanatic and have your set workouts in place each week, but we're talking averages here. There are a lot of people out there who don't workout at all, and if you're on of them getting a dog could totally help you turn that around.
5 They Can Make You More Social
That's right, having a pet can totally change your social life as well. Research has found that dog owners feel less isolated in general, which probably has something to do with the fact that you have to get outside and walk them. Other pets like cats, hamsters, etc that don't require walking did not seem to increase the social benefits. Simply getting outside and passing strangers on the street can literally make you feel less isolated, and then add to that the fact that you will probably be talking to more people in general. No matter where you are with a dog people are going to stop and talk to you about it because people love dogs and for some reason they feel the need to pet all of them. Dogs also like to sniff out other pups, which creates a lot of interactions with other people as well. If you go anywhere like a dog park it's almost impossible not to get chatted up. Hope you like people, because as a dog owner you are going to be dealing with a lot of them.
4 They're Tons Of Fun
Having a pet in your home is going to mean a lot more fun, and a lot less boring time. Dogs and cats can be pretty goofy, and they're pretty much guaranteed to make you laugh here and there. Naturally, they all have their different personalities so you'll constantly be delighted by them, just like you would be by any human that you like. Or maybe even more so because they're not going to let you down the way that people can. They're more like a human baby, minus the part where they cry and can't walk or feed on their own. Dogs and cats also like attention and are going to want to play with you from time to time, which of course is also fun. Some workplaces are actually starting to allow that people bring their dogs to work, because despite the extra attention they might require throughout the day, they can actually increase productivity around the workplace. Mostly this is due to the fact that dogs lead to reductions in stress, which then makes people work more efficiently.
3 They Might Save Your Life
Dogs have other health benefits for humans beyond increasing happiness and protecting the heart. A dog's sense of smell is about a million times better than humans (try to wrap your mind around that fact), and some dogs are actually able to sniff out cancer. One dog named Marine who was specifically trained in this regard has a 91 percent success rate of sniffing out colorectal cancer on someone's breath, as well as 97 percent accuracy sniffing a stool sample. Dogs can also help to keep you safe from foods that you're allergic to. Some dogs can be trained to sniff out whether there's even a hint of a peanut in a room, which could be a help for people who are extremely allergic to peanuts. They can even tell if there are peanuts in a candy bar that is still wrapped and inside of a lunch bag, which obviously could be a huge help to children or anyone else who is trying to carefully watch what they put into their mouth.
2 They Love You No Matter What
If you take care of a pet (and obviously are nice to them which of course you are), they are going to return the favor with the sweetest most unconditional love that exists. They don't care if you don't fit into your skinny jeans this week, or if you missed a deadline at work, snapped at a stranger for no reason, or can't get a date to save your life. They just love you for the simple you that opens your arms to them, and feeds them, and lets them outside when they need to poo. That kind of love isn't always the kind of love that we feel for the rest of our life. Of course, our parents, friends, and boyfriends love us to pieces, but they're also dealing with their own life stuff all the time so they don't always show it in the same ways that a cuddly pet will. Not to mention that we're pretty good at pissing off people that we love so occasionally there are some complications to deal with. We don't usually piss off our pets and even if we do they're fine a couple minutes later because that's just how they are.
1 You Love Them So Much Your Heart Could Break
Dogs are going to love the crap out of you, and you are going to love the crap out of them right back. In fact, you might love a dog so much that you feel like your heart could break, and in the times when you might lose a pet your heart really will break. But feeling that kind of emotion is similar to things like taking on more responsibility in the sense that we sometimes want to avoid them even though they are a huge part of life. You don't want to purposefully experience heart break of course, but being able to love deeply enough that your heart risks breaking is actually a huge gift. It means that you're open and brave, which is more than a lot of people can say. Anytime you love someone or something you also risk losing it, which is why a lot of people are afraid to fall in romantic love, or to have children, or to expand their world in general. They're afraid of both the good changes that come when you open your heart, and they're also afraid that they wouldn't be able to handle it when it doesn't work out. But you know better than that.