If there’s been one positive to the global COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that more pets have found loving homes. The website Petfinder saw a 116 percent increase in traffic in March, the LA Times reported on an uptick in pet adoptions, and the New York-based nonprofit Foster Dogs Inc. revealed that applications for adopting dogs have risen to 3,000 per month compared to 140 per month last year.
In this unprecedented and worrisome time, cats and dogs (and maybe lizards?) offer a stress-free companionship and help quell anxiety and unrest. What’s more, owning a pet doesn’t just ease the tension but also leads to better overall health. And research suggests that this is not just a perception, but that pets improve people’s well-being.
In return for you generously opening your home to a pet in need, you’re repaid with better health. Sounds like a win-win to us. Of course, we’re not suggesting that you click out of this article, run to your local shelter and pick up a new pet. Caring for an animal is hard work, so below, we’ll expound on their health-boosting benefits and then help you learn more about the adoption process. A pet may help benefit your life, but you want to ensure that you can enrich theirs as well.
How Pets Improve Health
Owning a pet decreases blood, lowers triglyceride levels, and even forces you outside (unless you’re cool with a urine-stained carpet), according to the CDC. The health-related benefits of owning a pet are so vast that there is an entire branch of interventional therapies for everything from depression to mobility issues.
Simply rubbing your hands across an animal’s fur might even trigger antibodies that can help protect you from things like urinary tract infections and gastrointestinal diseases. While owning a pet doesn’t grant you immunity, there is no doubt that your health will be better for it.
The Cost of a Pet
Before you adopt a pet, you need to consider the animal’s lifespan, how much exercise they need (and how much you can provide), and whether or not you have young kids who may not understand how to interact with a dog or cat. They may view the new pet as a toy. Cost is another significant factor.
One-time pet expenses can be over $1,000 in the first year, between the adoption fee, microchip, spay/neuter, vaccinations, and startup supplies. After that, reoccurring purchases of food, toys, and vet visits and medication, you should anticipate spending approximately $153 per month on your pet.
You can reduce the initial expenses by adopting an adult pet versus buying a puppy. Further, signing up for online memberships to pet supply stores, like Chewy, can help you save on your recurrent expenses. Chewy promo codes and cashback opportunities through deal aggregate websites (such as Rakuten) can help stretch your pet budget even further.
Caring for Your New Companion
For our pets to provide the most benefit, we have to treat them with the same love and care that they give us. This means taking care of them and providing them love and attention like you would be any other family member. Iditarod’s Diane Johnson makes several practical suggestions, including providing a clean living environment for your pets, watching their diet, and communicating.
Training is another essential aspect of a human/animal relationship. Not only does it enhance your bond, but it teaches healthy behaviors, which is yet another way to reduce overall stress. After all, your pet won’t bring you peace if they don’t listen and routinely misbehave. Further, you can get the entire family involved, which will help solidify your animal’s place in your structural hierarchy. A good pet owner will establish themselves as the alpha (particularly with dogs) and become a robust and trustworthy leader to their companion.
Ultimately, having a pet is one of the best and most affordable ways to enhance your overall wellness. Not only will the experience reduce stress and anxiety, but because you’ll be more active, your physical health may improve as well. But preparing for your new companion is half the battle. Know what you’re getting yourself into before you make a decision and be ready to build a stable relationship that will last a lifetime.