Your Doctors May Soon be Prescribing...a Labrador?
I’m sure, as most of us know, there’s nothing better than sharing your home with a pet. Besides the obvious joy pets bring into our lives, there’s also much to be said about the beauty and benefits of providing a pet with a home! Can a home be complete without a pet? Well, as a veterinarian, and “dad” to 10 pets, my answer is clearly a “NO.” And, considering the fact that there are more households in America with pets than there are with children, I’m obviously not alone!
The Benefits of Pets in the Home: There has been much written, as well as a tremendous amount of research touting the health benefits, physical, mental, and emotional, of sharing your home with pet. Did you know that simply petting an animal can lower your blood pressure? Having a dog can also lower your cholesterol! This is probably because people with dogs tend to exercise more themselves, so you can both benefit! Pets can help their people relieve stress and they help their owners sleep better (of course, once they’re out of their puppy or kitten stage). The benefits of having pets don’t stop there--it has been shown that kids who grow up with pets score, on average, 5 points higher on their I.Q. tests, and get better grades in school - pretty wild. Kids also become more responsible, and considerably more helpful at home. Finally, it has been shown that seniors who lose a spouse survive statistically longer if they share their home with a pet, than those who don’t. From an exercise perspective, pets, especially dogs, are best! Getting them out regularly, whether it’s for a jog, a brisk walk, playing frisbee or fetch at a park, this bonding and play time is not only good for their health, it’s good for yours as well.
I’m Sold! How do I get one? Times have changed, as has the way we find and bring pets into our homes. What was once accepted as a way to acquire a pet--by purchasing one at a pet store, is no longer “politically correct!” In fact many states have banned pet shops, and prohibit the sale of puppy mill puppies and kittens. The concept of “adopt, don’t shop” has been popularized, and for good reason! The sad truth is that thousands of pets are euthanized in our U.S. pounds and shelters EVERY DAY! Though we are seeing more and more “No Kill” shelters, unfortunately, due to the large volume of unwanted pets waiting for forever homes, and the space limitations of housing them, many of our shelters are forced to having to euthanize way too many. Though we, in the professional animal care world, are doing our best to educate pet lovers and consumers to NOT breed for fun, to NOT support pet shops that sell puppy-mill puppies and kittens, to NOT get a pet without doing your homework about the time and financial commitment it takes to provide a home for a pet. A sad fact is that the vast majority of pets relinquished to animal shelters are brought in by pet owners who were not prepared for the responsibility of properly caring for a pet Of course there are those cases of extenuating circumstances such as discovering that a household member has severe pet allergies, or a pet parent had been suddenly displaced and had no options for re-homing the pet. One thing we know for sure--adopting a pet from a pound or shelter, or a pet rescue organization can, and most probably will, save a life. And, the life it saves may not be just the pet’s who is getting adopted, but most probably, yours as well.
Good luck finding that perfect companion and saving a life!