“My goal in life is to be as good of a person as my dog already thinks I am.” ~ Unknown

Pets offer constant companionship and unconditional love, and as if that wasn’t already enough, research has found many other benefits associated with having a pet.

Pets are good for your health

Much research has been done, and continues to be done, on the heart-health of people with pets. And so far the findings all show a positive correlation. Adults that have pets or spend time with them have experienced reduced blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels. They also have a lowered risk of having a heart attack or stroke. Further, if you have suffered a heart attack or stroke, pets have been found to speed the recovery process.

Another interesting fact about pets is that they can ease our pain. That’s right, studies have found that those with chronic pain or who are recovering from a serious injury or surgery needed significantly less pain medication when some form of pet therapy was involved.

They’re good for your mental well-being

Research from the University of Missouri-Columbia suggests that hormonal changes occur when humans and pets interact. Petting an animal, such as a dog or cat, for even just a few minutes releases a number of “feel good” hormones in people such as serotonin, prolactin and oxytocin. It also results in decreased levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.

These hormonal changes coupled with the companionship, love and responsibility brought on by having a pet have been found to aid in the treatment of those with depression and help alleviate loneliness.

They’re good for your social life

Whether you need to walk them, train them, get supplies for them or learn more about them, pets get us out and socializing. Not to mention they are the perfect ice breaker for striking up a conversation. Pets are a catalyst for social interaction, and these exchanges can take place anytime or anywhere. Being a pet parent automatically makes you part of a whole new community, one where new members are always welcome. And even if some of these interactions stay pet-focused, and only occur when you meet up at the park, on the trails or in the pet aisles, the face-to-face interactions with other people will do you a world of good.

If you’re considering getting a pet, we recommend you begin with your local animal shelters and humane societies where you’re sure to find the perfect cat, dog, small animal or bird for your lifestyle and household. Additionally, consider the following when looking for a pet:

Puppies and kittens

Make sure you’re prepared for the patience, training and time they need. It may not be what you expected. Puppies and kittens grow up fast. By giving them proper care and attention, you can prevent behaviour issues before they start.

Adult pets

There are many benefits to adopting an adult pet. You know their size and their personality has developed. They are generally calmer and more settled. Older pets often get overlooked for younger ones. They still make loyal, loving companions.

Senior pets

Mature pets have the same benefits as adults pets, with extra needs. Although illness can happen at any stage in a pets life, they will occur sooner in a mature pet. You must be prepared emotionally and financially to care for them.

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