The Benefits of Having a Pet

Pets provide many mental and physical health benefits

Rachel Casper, Staff Writer

Pets are an important part of many people’s lives. According to the National Pet Owners Survey in 2019, about 85 million American families said they owned some kind of pet. There are many benefits of having a pet, including physical and mental benefits. 

Pets can provide many mental benefits to their owners. An article from One Health said, “a 2016 HABRI study [exploring] the role of pets in the social networks of people managing a long‑term mental health problem.” Some benefits the study found was reducing things such as depression and providing a distraction from symptoms of mental illnesses. Sophia Hollister, a NBW sophomore, said, “my dog has greatly lessened my depression.” 

A different article by the Mental Health Foundation also stated the connection between pets and mental health. These benefits include providing companionship, reducing anxiety by lowering stress-related hormones simply by being there, boosting self confidence as pets are great listeners and don’t judge, and providing a day-to-day routine which can help keep a person focused on their own daily tasks.

In addition to improving mental health, pets can also help improve a person’s physical health. Dogs, for example, need to go on walks. Going on even a simple daily walk has a lot of benefits. The HABRI states that people who walk their dog every day, “have lower instances of obesity.” Additionally, an article from Hartville Pet Insurance said that going on a daily walk would provide a boost in Vitamin D, which can also help prevent depression. 

Dogs aren’t the only pets that can help improve physical health, cats can too. A study from HABRI stated that, “there was a significantly lower relative risk for death due to cardiovascular diseases, including stroke and heart attack, compared to non‑cat owners.” This is because of the relaxing effect and ability to minimize stress that cats have on people.

There are plenty of other benefits to having a pet besides mental and physical health. Having a pet teaches people, especially younger kids, responsibility. Even something as simple as a fish or a reptile can help teach responsibility. For example, just taking care of a fish requires remembering to feed the fish, cleaning its tank, and making sure the water is still habitable for the fish. This concept of teaching responsibility also applies to all other pets. Having a pet puts another living being into an owner’s hands, and they need to keep on top of taking care of their pet.

Pets aren’t just limited to dogs or cats, however, and reptiles are also good and beneficial pets to have. In comparison, they are typically easier to care for than other pets as, according to the American Veterinary Hospital, they don’t require training and won’t cause damage to possessions. Reptiles also give the same benefits as other pets, such as reducing anxiety and providing companionship.

Even with evidence of how pets can benefit people, some people, specifically parents, don’t want pets. According to a C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health, 62 percent of parents who don’t want a pet cited the hassle as their reason for not having one. While pets can be a big commitment, having a pet can actually teach people, especially children, good time management because it requires thinking about the future and what can reasonably be accomplished.

Another challenge of owning a pet can be finding the time to travel. Not every travel destination is animal friendly, and it’s not always possible to bring along pets, whether it’s for a day trip or two week long vacation. This, however, can be easily solved with pet sitters or even something as simple as asking someone to go to the house and put some food in the fish tank.

Overall, the positives far outweigh the negatives of owning a pet. It can teach many life skills and can have a significant positive impact on someone’s mental and physical health.