Anyone who’s ever come home to the sound of paws padding across the kitchen floor, the furious wagging of a tail, and the pure joy that only a pup can produce knows: There’s a reason they say dogs are a man’s best friend. Many of our remote Ally employees might even say their pets make excellent coworkers — and we’ve got pictures to prove it!
Even though dogs are often touted as the perfect companion, studies show that pets of all kinds — cats, horses, fish, and, yes, even crickets, too — have the power to provide happiness, reduce stress, and improve the overall mental and physical health of those around them.
While bringing any kind of animal into your life can be a major commitment both monetarily and time-wise, the benefits run deeper than you might expect. From the unconditional love pets can exude to the pride that stems from taking care of another, having a pet is a priceless boost on your wellbeing.
A Friend for Physical Activity
There’s no question that pets can keep you on your toes, especially when it comes to dogs. Pups love to play and oftentimes have excess energy they’re itching to release. Whether you prefer throwing a frisbee in the backyard, taking a stroll around the neighborhood, or jogging to the dog park, you can be sure that owning a dog will add activity to your day.
That’s not to say other kinds of pets won’t get you moving. Cats can be super playful (when they’re not napping) — and even if yours isn’t, you’ll still spend plenty of time on your feet … vacuuming. And while horses are a less conventional pet, these kind-eyed creatures are sure to get you moving around and spending hours outside.
A Companion for Comfort
When you have a pet, they truly become part of your family, as 95% of animal owners will agree. And although it’s your job to maintain the health and happiness of your animal, they can contribute quite a bit to yours as well — especially when it comes to social needs.
In a study from Psychology Today, research showed that pets (no matter if it’s a dog, cat, fish, lizard, etc.) provide meaningful social support for not just lonely people or those with challenging health conditions, but for the majority of all pet owners. Another interesting find? People who are close to their pets have better relationships with other humans as well. This is likely because pets have been shown to actually improve your self-esteem, conscientiousness, and outgoingness.
The same research also found that the social relationships formed with pets can provide the sense of belonging and meaning. And just thinking about your pet can help stave off the negativity associated with loneliness, too. You can’t put a price on friendship, and it’s easy to see a bond like that is invaluable (and worth all the money spent on toys and treats).
A Sidekick for Stress Relief
In most scenarios, the combination of increasing your daily physical activity and fulfilling your social needs is a recipe for lowering stress. But pets can reduce your stress levels in other ways, too. Research shows pets can provide emotional support, lower anxiety during stressful events, and increase good moods just by being around them (but a snuggle sesh doesn’t hurt).
While dogs are most often thought of as therapy or emotional support animals, other types of pets can have profound effects on your mental health as well. Studies have shown that spending time with horses and performing activities like grooming can help reduce PTSD symptoms in kids and young adults. And fish can be highly therapeutic as well — simply watching fish in an aquarium can your lower blood pressure and heart rate, improve your mood, and help you relax.
Evaluating the Commitment
It’s important to remember that while pets can bring you many physical and mental benefits, they are a big responsibility and depend on you for care. And caring for a pet comes with a price tag.
Dozens of factors will affect how much you might need to budget for your pet. But if you plan to get a cat or dog, you should be prepared for several one-time costs like adoption fees, vaccinations, and possibly spaying or neutering. Altogether, those expenses can range from about $300 to nearly $2,000.
You’ll need to budget for regular costs, too. Annual vet visits, food, toys, and other necessary expenses typically add up to between $400 to $1,200, depending on the size and breed of your animal. And finally, it’s always a good idea to have a pet emergency fund on hand in case something unexpected happens to your little buddy.
If you’re thinking about getting a pet but aren’t sure if you’re ready to commit to a (hopefully) decade-plus commitment of a cat or dog, you might consider fostering from a local shelter. It’s a great way to try out pet ownership for a short-term period, while also doing something kind for an animal in need. Or, you can try something far less commitment-wise, like a beta fish.
No matter your decision, pets of all kinds — whether they’re small and scaly or big and fluffy — can provide comfort, happiness, and companionship for weeks, months, or years to come. And while the cost of animal is important to consider, the payoff of endless puppy kisses or kitten cuddles is worth every penny.
Getting ready to add a furry, scaly, or feathered friend to the family?