There are many reasons why people need to stay at home for days, weeks or even months on end. Situations can vary greatly. The individual may be recovering from surgery, a new mother, someone who has a condition where movement is not recommended, or there’s a worldwide pandemic – any of these can prevent a person from leaving home.
Studies have shown that staying indoors for extended periods of time can affect the mind and body in many different ways. In particular, people who cannot leave their homes become lethargic, more anxious, stressed out, restless, and even moodier. Individuals can feel hopeless, lonely, and depressed.
For millennia, humans have used animals for many purposes, primarily for food and to help with work or labor. But over time, people have recognized another benefit of living with animals at home: Animals make great companions. Pets provide their owners with a greater sense of happiness and fulfillment that cannot be acquired elsewhere.
In stressful times, a pet’s ability to comfort their owners cannot be understated. When you are home alone, a pet can help you get through the negative thoughts and emotions.
Here are some of the benefits of getting a pet:
1. Pets help lower your stress levels
Staying at home doesn’t always mean there’s nothing to do. Some parents work from home while homeschooling their kids as well. It can be tough trying to strike a balance between keeping the children busy while dad is on a video call.
Anybody can get stressed, regardless of their age, gender, or status in life. There are chores to be done and bills to pay. Students and even empty nesters may feel lonely and unable to each out to friends or family.
Having a pet around is enough to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Studies show that the more a person strokes, pets, or actively interacts with a dog or cat, the better he will feel. It works in any given situation.
Plus, who doesn’t like seeing somebody’s pet in a video? Formal video calls and teleconferences become more bearable when a colleague’s pet suddenly decides to make an appearance, even if it is unintentional. A few seconds of being with a pet is all a person needs to settle down and feel removed from any stressful situation.
2. They inspire you to increase your physical activity
Fur parents have the responsibility of keeping their pets fit and healthy. When staying at home, it may be tempting to just sleep all day, binge on movies, or empty the fridge, among others. But with a pet to care for, owners are motivated to think beyond their own needs and consider their pets’ well-being, much like parents do for their children.
Staying at home may limit exercising options, but it is not impossible. Exercising in a small apartment or limited space does require being creative and resourceful, but it can be done. There are many different types of toys to give your pet, depending on the amount of interaction the owner wants and prefers.
Shops sell a plethora of toys, including ropes, balls, stuffed toys, chew types, puzzles, and treat-dispensing models for dogs. Cats respond to stimuli differently and may prefer toys that come in the form of feathers or wands, or that contain catnip, among others. With so many options, fur parents can and should experiment to see which are best suitable for the situation and fit the pets’ needs.
For fur parents who own exercising machines, the machines can be used to give themselves and their pets an exercise. Using treadmills, for instance, can be done as an alternative to taking a walk around the park. They can provide a safe yet effective way of exercising pets indoors.
3. They make you feel good
Getting a pet, preferably through adoption or fostering programs, is not just for the psyche. Canines and felines also affect their owners physiologically.
Both dogs and cats have been known to have the ability to read through a person’s emotions. There are plenty of stories of pets coming to an owner’s aid, attempting to soothe the person, or cheering people up. Pets can not only help reduce stress, but also the symptoms associated with it.
For instance, elevated blood pressure is a typical result of stress or anxiety. Research shows that owners who have a pet exhibit lower blood pressure levels than those without one.
Staying inside any space for prolonged periods can stress people out and develop chronic diseases over time, such as heart problems. But having a pet around can make the situation more tolerable. Spending time with a pet can lower a person’s blood pressure and make them feel healthier over time.
Studies also indicate that petting a dog or cat releases a number of chemicals, including dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin. All these chemicals make people feel good and happy. Pets give the person’s mood a boost anytime they’re around.
4. Nothing beats their companionship
People are social beings. They develop close bonds with family, friends, colleagues, partners, and neighbours. Having these bonds can make any stressful situation more manageable.
In some cases, people may need to live alone. They could be students or workers living alone in an apartment, patients who need to be isolated from other people, or senior citizens who want to live independently. People can still feel lonely, regardless of how emotionally strong or upbeat they may appear to be on the outside.
When living alone for extended amounts of time, pets take an even more prominent role. Some people feel closer to their pets because of the situation. Unlike other humans, cats and dogs won’t argue or talk back – a perfect solution if the person just needs to vent.
Plus, pets love humans unconditionally. In the case of dogs, they don’t hold grudges and will always seem thrilled to see their owners. It can’t get any better than that.
If you have more than enough resources and are willing to take on the responsibility, why not adopt or foster a cat or dog? Adoption centers, animal shelters and the like are filled with animals that need a new home. On top of that, fostering allows you to help understaffed animal groups.
Think about it carefully. You will find that pets can affect and fill your life in a way that no other person can. Talk to a shelter or adoption center today and talk about the options available to you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Farah Al-Khojai is the Managing Partner of Pet’s Delight. A passionate entrepreneur, Farah holds a Bsc in Government from the London School of Economics. She is always on the lookout for new opportunities to develop and grow the pet and equestrian retail and wholesale market in the UAE and beyond, and is proud to be at the helm of the first and the largest pet care provider in the market representing world-class brands including Orijen, Applaws, Hunter, Savic, Flamingo, Ruffwear and Rogz.