One of the best things to come out of 2020 was something nobody could have predicted (assuming we could have predicted anything about last year): a record number of pet adoptions. With social distancing efforts limiting human interaction and people spending way more time at home, some shelters could barely keep up with the demand.This is great news for homeless companion animals, but it might be even better news for the humans who brought those furry (and feathered and scaled) friends into their lives. It turns out that when you adopt a pet, it is more than just a good deed – it might actually be good for us. In fact, adopting a pet might just make your life better.
The Human Benefits of Having a Pet
Research has suggested that pets can improve both our physical and our mental health. According to the Centers for Disease Control, pets are good for everything from our blood pressure to our fitness habits.
Pets Provide Companionship
In the midst of quarantines and social distancing, pets have helped to fill the void of isolation by reducing feelings of loneliness and anxiety. When we engage with animals, our oxytocin (the “bonding hormone”) levels go up. That’s the same hormone that helps mothers bond with their children, and it helps all of us to feel connected, whether with humans or animals.
Pets Lower Stress and Improve Moods
Just the simple act of petting an animal can be relaxing. At the same time that our oxytocin levels go up, cortisol levels go down. Cortisol is the stress hormone, and, unless you’re being chased by a bear, less is usually a good thing.
Pets Add Purpose and Structure to Your Day
Animals thrive in a routine, and they rely on their humans to set and maintain one for them (though some more vocal pets may help to keep you on track). That routine, and the responsibility to care for another creature, can contribute to an overall sense of purpose for caretakers of pets.
Pets Encourage Us to Be More Active
Dogs and cats need exercise to stay healthy and happy, especially when they’re young. For dogs in particular, meeting that need typically means that their owners get some exercise too. Even if your pet is more of the indoor or pocket variety, engaging with them in play or other species-appropriate activities is good for both of you.
Consider If You Should Adopt a Pet
Knowing all the benefits of pet ownership, we wouldn’t blame you if you rushed out to a shelter right now. But remember: adopting a pet means taking responsibility for their life and well-being, and the decision should not be made lightly. For many animals, it’s a long-term commitment, and it’s not always easy.
Pets, like humans, come with a variety of personalities and individual needs. Some require more training, exercise, and attention than others. Plus, many of us will eventually migrate back to normal workplaces, resume traveling, and generally spend more time away from home than we have in recent months.
It’s important to think about how your new pet will fit into your current and your future lifestyle, and what type of pet might be best for you. Consider everything both the money (vet bills, training, food and supplies) and the time (going on walks, play, etc.) you have and are willing to share with your new pet.
How to Find a Companion Pet to Adopt
Once you decide you’re ready to adopt a pet, you can browse available animals online, sorting by location or age or breed. Or you can find a local shelter to visit to meet them in person. If a pure bred animal is more your style, research reputable breeders in your area to find your next pet.
How to Get the Benefits of Pets Ownership When Pet Adoption Isn’t Right for You
You can enjoy the perks of pet ownership even without having your own! Local shelters are always looking for volunteers to engage with their residents or to foster animals waiting for adoption. If you have some skills in caring for pets already, you could become a pet sitter and make some extra cash as well.
Show Us Your Pets
We want to see your furry friends! Post a picture of you and your pets on Instagram with the hashtag #petsoftattooedwomen. And be sure to share your tattoo photos to the Tattooed Women Gallery too!