We're only about a week into COVID-19 inspired isolation, and many of us are feeling verklempt. While we are necessarily isolated from each other, those of us with pets have doubled down on our affections. My love for my cat has never been deeper, and I'm not the only one who feels this way. The New York Times reported last Thursday a nationwide uptick in pet adoptions and fostering applications. Pets need us, and it turns out, we need pets.
The following benefits of pet ownership came straight from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), so I'm in no way making this up.
Benefits of Pet Ownership
1.) Decreased Stress
In a 2002 study at State University of New York at Buffalo, researchers found that people conducting stressful tasks felt less stress when their pets were with them. Emotional Support Animals are used to help people who suffer from anxiety, depression, panic attacks, or suicidal tendencies. FEMA uses therapy and "crisis response" dogs to soothe victims of disaster, and therapy animals are commonly used to help senior citizens improve their quality of life.
2.) Decreased Blood Pressure
According to the CDC, having a pet has the potential to lower blood pressure, especially in hypersensitive or high-risk patients. Marty Becker, veterinary consultant for Good Morning America and author of Your Dog: The Owner's Manuel, says the unconditional love of a pet eases stress, which can help decrease blood pressure. Seems obvious, right?
3.) Decreased Chronic Pain
The CDC estimates that 20.4% of U.S. adults have chronic pain and an additional 8% have high-impact chronic pain, totaling 69.9 million people. Chronic pain can affect a person’s ability to carry out daily tasks, from earning an income to falling asleep at night. Those experiencing chronic pain with pets have been shown to require fewer painkillers, get better sleep, and be more likely to remain employed.
4.) Decreased Loneliness
Pets are wonderful companions because they love unconditionally. At Walter Reed Army Medical Center, dogs are used to help soldiers dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. Not only are dogs great companions for soldiers, but Walter Reed has documented decreased suicide rates and increase positive mental health outcomes. If you're quarantined and lonely, look no further than you're local animal shelter.
5.) Increased Activity Levels
This benefit primarily pertains to dogs. I've become no more physically active because of my cat, although he does serve as a default alarm clock, ensuring I never skip an early morning workout. If you're looking for a running buddy, consider a Siberian husky, German Shepherd dog, Irish Setter, or English Springer Spaniel. If you want a chill dog, consider a Pug, Chihuahua, Pekingese, or Basset Hound. Or, just do what I did and adopt a cat, who sleep (on average) 15 hours a day.
6.) Increased Opportunities for Socialization
My ex and I used to joke that the best way to make friends in a new city would be to adopt a cute dog and just walk around. Pets can help build human-to-human friendships and social interactions in general, especially pet-owner to pet-owner. And if it weren't obvious enough, the prestigious Harvard Medical School stated in a blog post that, “Dogs can be good ice-breakers, making it easy for humans to start conversations.” How insightful.
If anyone is philanthropically inclined, spam me with photos of your pets.