What is it like to live with animal companions?
If you ask me. Personally, I am an animal lover especially to the ones that are domesticated. I have a pet dog, cat and some fish in my aquarium. I have been a pet owner for a long time and for many pets that have passed. Even though some of them are gone because nature took its place on them and I might have gotten carried away in terms of taking care of them, I cherished each moment I had with my pets. I will always remember the time that they helped me cope up with stress and whenever I am anxious or sad I would hug and pet my animals. And now, to my current pets, I am more caring, loving and I have learned the do’s and don'ts with them, I still want to learn a lot about how to take care of them. It's something that I will treasure until I get older.
These pets I have, love me back. I know this because as a pet owner, we feel that connection towards our pets as if we are their parents and that their body language distinguishes that they are indeed loving us and they want to play with us or feel the affection they get from us. We give that genuine care for them and that sense of responsibility to them that we gain as well. They might get into our nerves due to misbehavior sometimes but it is a normal response that they do and that is part of owning a pet. It is not all cute on all things that they do, but what matters is that they help us back as how we help them from hardships that we experience without knowing that somehow they do help.
Evidently, all people who own a pet must know what specifically and how does our pet help us with our lives and how it reduces depression. Such as the examples here that are provided below.
Pets as an engaging physical activity
I get this benefit from my pet dog that is highly active and he always wants to play fetch with me. To support my idea, a study according to Paul Cherniack and Ariella Cherniack (2015) as an example of the benefit of having a pet such as having a dog may encourage physical activity, which may contribute to improved cardiovascular health and in their study stated that having a pet have shown that adults who own a pet exercise more and participate in more leisure-time physical activity. In general, if a pet is active, expect to engage in physical activity that includes chasing, running, etc.
Pets as a cure to depression
Whenever we feel that we are lonely and depressed, we should try to pet, give attention and groom the pet or pets we have. To show that it is effective, a study of Majic, Gutzmann, Heinz, et. al.(2013) showed that the elderlies that have an animal-assisted therapy such as a therapy dog that they pet and groom tends to stabilize the symptoms of their depression . Furthermore, to be in contact with animals, including pets, has social benefits and reduces loneliness which is better than to engage in destructive behaviors that are possible since you get the symptoms of depression. As we can see, it improves our mental health by helping ourselves or even the patients who are in need of any animal-assisted therapy.
Setbacks in owning a pet
Owning a pet can be very costly since we need to provide for their needs. Pets carry health risks for some people such as allergic reactions, infections and possible diseases (Stull, Brophy and Weese 2015). Pets can be destructive and pets require a lot in hand and the owner should dedicate time and attention, as I have said lately, there is responsibility required, if we are not able to have then we should not take care of a pet because it is for the individuals who are ready for what can cause.
As a pet owner, my pets help me reduce stress whenever I walk, pet and feed them. It's my pets that are like a hero to me because they save the day by helping me cope up. To my dog that wags his tail, to my cat that purrs to me and to my fishes that follow my direction when I get close to the aquarium, I am happy to have them. When I get sad, my dog jumps on me, gets near me and so I play with him. When I’m lonely, I carry and cuddle the cat and when I feel exhausted due to a tiring day, I just stare at the fishes from the tank.
I suggest that further studies should include the pets that are capable of such activities and not so generalized yet these pets improve our health and moods. There might be setbacks but it would not matter because what matters most is that you care and provide for these pets and not harm them. I suggest to those who have not owned a pet yet, better have one or more as long as you are ready for it and that the pet or pets you own are more capable of these activities because they are not just a pet, they are family.
Cherniack, E. P., & Cherniack, A. R. (2015). Assessing the benefits and risks of owning a pet. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 187(10), 715–716. doi:10.1503/cmaj.150274
Majic T, Gutzmann H, Heinz A, et al. Animal-assisted therapy and agitation and depression in nursing home residents with dementia: a matched case–control trial. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry 2013;21:1052-9.
Stull, J. W., Brophy, J., & Weese, J. S. (2015). Reducing the risk of pet-associated zoonotic infections. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 187(10), 736–743. doi:10.1503/cmaj.141020