Updated: Mar 20
Lonely? Stressed? Bored? Need purpose? Need a friend you can talk to who won’t judge you? We have the perfect prescription to help you with all of those. And no, we are not talking about drugs, we are talking about hugs… puppy hugs that is. Studies show that owning a fur baby is good for the soul. We have living proof from our own experiences and from some professional sources.
The Pros and Cons of Getting a Puppy
I’ll start with the cons because there are not many and I am team get a puppy so for all intents and purposes of this article, I am trying to convince you to get a dog. (Disclaimer)
Major Responsibility – This is both a pro and a con but I would like to stress this with the most importance. When you get a pet of any kind, you are making a huge commitment and you are responsible for their life. Literally. It is up to you as the pet parent to keep your pet alive. During the beginning stages of their life, they are going to need extra attention as they are learning. You will need to teach them how to use the bathroom in the proper places and other basic behavior skills. The teaching process will test your patience but I promise it does get easier over time. You must be willing and able to provide them with food, water, shelter, safety, medication, proper hygiene and most importantly, love. Also, this is real good experience for those of you who are trying to be human baby mamas one day.
Expensive – This goes hand and hand with the above. Pets are expensive. Be sure that you are financially stable and capable of affording all of the needs for your pet. Some expenses I have had to take on with my pup for example include: food, food bowls, leash, harness, toys, bed, crate, baby gates, treats, carpet cleaner, training classes, name tag, vaccinations, vet visits, spay/neuter surgery, pet insurance, heartworm and flea preventative medications and replacing any destroyed or damaged items. I cannot stress this enough. Pets are expensive.
PSA: IF YOU CANNOT AFFORD TO TAKE CARE OF A PET FINANCIALLY, PHYSICALLY OR EMOTIONALLY, DO NOT GET ONE.
THE PROS – WHAT EXPERTS SAY ABOUT OWNING A PET
I can go on and on all day long about how much I love my puppy child and stand behind my decision to become a dog mom, but I just wanted to provide you with further proof that you should jump on the fur wagon too, so I rounded up some advice from the experts. Here is what they had to say:
Longer life expectancy & reduced blood pressure –
Dr. Hauke, Licensed Psychologist, FBH Psychological Services, PLLC said “animal ownership/companionship leads to longer life expectancy as well as reduced blood pressure.”
Lower stress & anxiety –
Danielle Swimm, Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor in the state of Maryland who specializes in treating anxiety and disordered eating said, “Pets provide so much comfort to people when feeling anxious or stressed. Dogs are also a great distraction from stress and provide a simple, slower way of living for dog owners. They want to go outside and walk around, which prompts the owners to get some sunlight and fresh air (which is another calming boost for dog owners). Dogs also help us feel secure and safe, which is vital in de-stressing. (Danielle Swimm, MA, LCPC Licensed Psychotherapist www.collidebehavioralhealth.com
Helps mental health & minimizes depression –
Whitney Hawkins, Licensed psychotherapist and owner of The Collaborate says, “Pets are amazing for your mental health. They offer so many benefits including keeping you accountable and giving you something to love. Research indicates that having a pet helps with a variety of mental health conditions, along with a host of other benefits like:
Pets are an excellent addition for anyone suffering from depression or anxiety. Studies show that dog owners are less likely to suffer from depression than those without pets..People with dogs also have lower blood pressure in stressful situations than people without pets. Petting a cat or a dog, especially during a stressful situation, can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine and allows the individual to relax.Having an animal provides people with a sense of companionship and creates a loving bond. This leads to less loneliness and a greater sense of purpose.Pet owners have lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels (indicators of heart disease)Caring for animals can help increase exercise and help you meet new people. Dog parks are an awesome way to be more social.Having a pet adds structure and routine to your day. You have to feed the animal and likely take it outside/provide it with exercise.
Companionship & Increased activity –
Pets provide unparalleled loyal companionship. They also might help you meet other people! Whether it’s just others in the dog park or somebody walking by, there are entire communities of new people to meet that a pet can introduce you to. Companionship is important because its proven that lonely brains function differently. Studies have shown that lonely brains are conditioned to tune into social threats faster than a “normal” brain, and that can cause stress. Cortisol, the hormone released when the body is under stress, has negative effects on blood sugar regulation and immunity, among others.
Having a pet to take care of often forces you to get out and walk it. This increase in daily activity and exercise is known to release endorphins in the brain. Endorphins are chemicals that improve your mood and reduce pain, among other benefits. Not to mention, exercise is a great way to keep your overall health in check.
(Written by Dr. Bryan Bruno, Medical Director at Mid City TMS. Mid City TMS is a New York City-based medical center focused on treating depression.)
And for cat lovers –
Kac Young PhD, ND, DCH Author of The One Minute Cat Manager to be published March 2019 by Hubble & Hattie says,
“The University of Vienna discovered that the cat-human bond has many similarities to the human-human bond, therefore your best friend and confidant might just turn out to be a cat.”
“Cats help us relax. Their soft purr lulls us into a calmer state, their sweet faces engage us and stroking them, while feeling their silky fur, calms our central nervous system. When we have something as adorable as a cat outside ourselves to focus on, we shift our concentration from worry to delight. The very act of caring for another being lifts us out of our problems and gives us a companion to share our feelings with. After a tough day at work often the simple act of feeding and caring for a cat relieves the concerns of the day and puts a smile on our faces. Cats are reciprocal beings and can mirror our behavior and emotions. They are excellent emotional barometers for us and healers for a broken heart.”
IN SUMMARY – THIS IS WHY YOU SHOULD GET A PET
Ashley B. Hampton, PhD, Licensed Psychologist & Owner, Psychology, Consulting, & Evaluations, LLC also Social Entrepreneur & Founder of Dr. Ashley Hampton, LLC sums it up best:
“Pets can help human owners in a variety of ways, including help alleviate stress (literally lowering stress hormones in the body), help activate the chemical oxytocin, and simply provide companionship by being present. These are also all great reasons as to why we have companion animals or “therapy” animals.”
“Because pets can alleviate stress, we often look to them to listen or spend time with us after a stressful or traumatic event. I look forward to spending time with my cat when I arrive home from work because the time we spend playing disconnects me from the work stress and makes me laugh, forcing me to be in the moment and forget about the troubles of my day.
Numerous studies have shown the brain releases oxytocin and dopamine when we see our pets, just like when we see babies. These chemicals are responsible for relationship building and are often nicknamed “love” chemicals. Releasing happy chemicals into our brain when we see our pets is reinforcing, and we then desire to see and interact with our pets more.
Pets have been known to decrease feelings of loneliness in the elderly and allow elderly individuals to have more purpose in their daily lives. Taking care of a pet gives them unconditional love, a good listener, and a reason to continue to work toward being healthy and living a longer life.
SO WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR!?
Go find your soul-pet, girl! Or share this with someone who still needs a little convincing. Doctor’s orders!