Pet owners believe that their lives are enriched by owning a pet, but did you know even the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) suggests that having a pet is good for you? Pet ownership and companionship can prevent you from feeling lonely, give you more opportunities for socialization, and give you a sense of love and pride from taking such good care of your pet. In fact, just petting your dog or cat can immediately lower your stress level!
Pets have been proven to lower anxiety and depression, especially for people who are prone to these mental health conditions or who have suffered through a traumatic event. One reason for this is that the presence of a pet changes a person’s focus from his or her inward thoughts to taking care of a dependent animal.
Sharing your life and home with a dog, cat, or other four-legged or feathered friend offers many important physical health benefits as well. According to the CDC, some of these include reduced blood pressure, reduced triglyceride level, and reduced cholesterol. Additionally, owning a dog provides opportunities for you to get out of the house and exercise by taking your dog for a walk. Even playing with your cat can give you some much-needed physical activity.
Before You Make the Commitment
As wonderful as these benefits are, make sure that you’re ready for the responsibilities of pet ownership if you’re thinking about bringing a new animal into your home. For example, consider whether you have the time, patience, and energy to housetrain a new puppy or deal with the behavioral issues of a cat who suffered neglect in his last home. It’s important to understand that bringing a pet home is a lifetime commitment that can be as long as 20 years.
Lancaster Veterinary Clinic also recommends that you spend time researching the health, nutrition, behavior, and exercise needs of the specific breed of pet you want to adopt. The better prepared you are at the beginning, the more likely it is you will experience all of the physical and emotional benefits of having a pet in your home. Plus, your preparation will help ease your new incoming new family member’s transition, too!
How to Help Your Pet Remain Mentally Sharp
Pets age much more quickly than humans do. In fact, dogs age the equivalent of 15 years for the first year and varying years, depending on size, for every year after that. That means you will be dealing with middle-aged and senior health issues in years, not decades. Fortunately, you can do several things to help your dog, cat, or other pet keep a sharp mind well into her senior years.
Food puzzles and toys that require your pet to problem-solve before receiving a treat are both a great option. Setting aside time each day for exercise and personal interaction with your pet is important as well. If you really want to see your pet think, hide a toy somewhere in the house and tell him to go find it. Placing a treat in or near the toy will emit a smell that allows your pet to follow his nose.
We offer several toys for mental stimulation in our online store. Our veterinarians are also happy to answer your questions and offer suggestions for other activities you can do with your pet to increase mental stimulation. Additionally, with regular exams, we’ll be able to help you on this journey and address pet health concerns at their most treatable stages. Call us at 608-723-6366 to make your pet’s appointment.
“Healthy Pets, Healthy People.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2 Feb. 2018, www.cdc.gov/healthypets/health-benefits/index.html.“How to Figure Out Your Dog's Age.” WebMD, WebMD, pets.webmd.com/dogs/how-to-calculate-your-dogs-age.
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