During a time when mental health crises are statistically growing across the country, it’s always reassuring to have a source of unconditional love and comfort in one’s life. For many, these things come in the form of pets, often of the canine or feline variation. If you’re on the fence about owning one yourself, perhaps this article will convince you to think about adopting a furry friend. While a pet certainly involves a commitment of time and finances, it could be a significant benefit in the long run! 

Our two and four-footed comrades boast a proven ability to make us humans feel better. Through interactions with our dogs, cats and what have you, our cortisol levels, the hormone which essentially regulates our feelings of stress, decrease, along with lower blood pressure. Per the comforting and supportive nature of domesticated pets and their abilities to sense our unease and unhappiness, they’re able to navigate us through some of the tougher times in our lives. By providing this animal with loving support and care, you can probably expect a similar return, creating a mutually beneficial and loving relationship, not unlike a familial or friendly bond between humans. Schools even integrate them in official exam stress reduction programs, alongside serving the elderly in retirement homes. 

It’s not difficult to find practical applications for pets in society today. Therapy animals are common, especially for those with mental or physical vulnerabilities, and are trained to not only interact patiently with their owner but with other humans as well. Dogs are the most popular therapy animal, given their increased openness to interact with strangers and greater ability to communicate with humans more than most other animals. Even discounting these advantages, animals can provide a sense of security in your home. Studies confirm that any dog, no matter its size or breed, can ward off prospective intruders. 

However, the adage of our parents, whenever our young selves clamored for a pet, remains true: “Only if you can take care of it.” Animal abuse, and in extreme cases, cruelty, remains a problem throughout the United States. Shelters are constantly overwhelmed with new entries, and pets are often left abandoned on the porches of neighbors and sides of highways and streets after the owner(s) realize they are ill-equipped to care for the animal. These incidents are heartbreaking, as it displays a betrayal of the innate trust that animals place in humans. Survivors of this abandonment usually experience reclusiveness, alongside a distancing from humans and return to shelters. 

Feelings of isolation and loneliness are common among young people today, but pets can provide an effective deterrent, as they encourage exercise by demanding walks or playing with them. In turn, they remain attentive to your emotional needs should you reciprocate their kindness and love, even by simply just being another living presence in the home. Dogs, cats and all manner of pets are clinically proven as deterrents against depression, isolationist feelings and low self-esteem issues.

Ultimately, should one be adequately prepared and ready for such a task, taking care of a pet could change your life for the better. With academically proven results of mental and physical health benefits, adopting the ranks of man’s best friend could very well be the improvement your life might need!