Most people take the large step into pet ownership when they live on their own, get married or have children. There are many benefits to owning a pet, including physical, emotional and even social benefits! Plus, who doesn’t love the aesthetics of adding unique pet stockings to the fireplace mantel during the holidays?

Considerations for Owning a Pet

Before discussing the benefits of owning a pet, let’s talk about the general considerations of owning a pet. 

  • Do You Have the Time? Owning a pet is a large time commitment. If you work varying shift hours or tend to go on long vacations or out-of-the-area work meetings, owning a pet might not be for you. Pets need consistent companionship. While you don’t have to be around them constantly, they enjoy being around you and can suffer from separation anxiety if you’re not around a lot. Many people don’t consider this prior to owning a pet, and they end up having to give their pets anxiety medications to assist them during the day. 
  • Do You Have the Money? Pets can be expensive. From veterinary bills to prescription food, the costs of owning a pet are variable–meaning they don’t stay the same. Owning a pet is similar to having children, and you should be prepared to incur the added expenses!
  • Do You Have the Space? Some pets need more space to live in than others. Some dog breeds have genetic requirements to ensure they stay in peak health. For example, some dogs need to have a yard space they can run around in, whereas cats typically can survive in smaller apartments. 
  • Do You Know that Animal’s Needs? Each animal has different needs. For example, a horse will need an open pasture to graze in, whereas a snake will need a glass enclosure. Prior to owning a pet, you should research the dietary, social and other needs a specific breed will have. 
  • How Are You Getting Your Pet? If you’re adopting a pet, consider the adoption fees and requirements from the organization or rescue. These requirements are typically more stringent than purchasing a pet from a breeder. Adoption is also great for those who want older pets, or pets who might have medical conditions or deformities. If you decide to purchase a puppy from a breeder, do your research to ensure you’re not getting the animal from what’s known as a “mill”–a place that breeds animals without any true concern for their well-being. Typically, puppies purchased from “puppy mills” have long-lasting health conditions as a result of inbreeding or poor breeding standards. This is probably the biggest consideration for people looking to own a pet. Where you get the pet from will largely determine what type of condition the pet will be in later in life. 

Dog paws in human hands

Benefits of Owning a Pet

Now that we’ve covered the considerations of owning a pet, let’s talk about the best part–the benefits! 

  • Emotional: If you suffer from certain mental health issues, such as anxiety or depression, owning a pet can serve as a natural remedy to them! While not to be used as your whole treatment plan for your mental health, owning a pet in conjunction with any of your other treatments can be a big help. On top of that, your friends and family can give your pet some adorable personalized pet gifts every year!
  • Physical: Owning a pet, especially a pet such as a dog or horse, can help you reach your physical health goals. You can get outside and take them for walks or trail rides. Plus, since they have to stay healthy, it encourages you to stay healthy, too! On top of that, many studies have shown that owning pets improves your health in a variety of ways, such as cholesterol levels and blood pressure.  
  • Social: Owning a social pet, such as a dog, can help you interact more with others! You’ll go to dog parks and interact with other owners there, or you’ll go to behavior training classes. Many breweries and outdoor venues allow dogs, too, so you can meet new people with your pet at your favorite hangout spots!

A cat cuddling with a man

Other Notes About Pet Ownership

Owning a pet is a large undertaking, but it has many benefits. From emotional stability to social opportunities, pets really can change your life! However, there are some other things to note about owning a pet that you should know:

  • Hygiene: It’s important to keep yourself and your pet healthy. One of the best ways to do that is to keep good hygiene habits. Make sure you wash your hands before and after feeding your pet or cleaning cages. Keep up with a flea and tick protection regimen as well as vaccinations, and don’t let pregnant women change cat litter because of potentially harmful toxins.
  • Exercise Caution with Children: Children, especially those under the age of five, don’t typically know how to behave around animals if they didn’t grow up with them. If you’re getting a new pet but have a toddler or small child in the house, make sure you introduce the pet slowly into the family. However, if done correctly, pets can teach children a lot about taking care of things and give them a companion to grow up with. You can delegate certain responsibilities to your kids revolving around the pets, such as taking the dog for a walk or cleaning the hamster cages.
  • Alert Your Friends: Many people are allergic to dogs or cats, so make sure you let your friends know about your pets prior to letting them come to your home. This way, your friends who are allergic can take their medications prior to arriving at your home. You should also alert your friends in case they are nervous around your type of pet. Some people have had negative experiences with certain animals that might make them anxious or uncomfortable. No one’s telling you to hide your pets away. Just be proactive and transparent with new friends or family!