6 Reasons Adopting a Pet is the Best Gift to Give
As we quickly approach the holiday season, the time of gift-giving and generosity, you might be noticing a spike in online posts from animal shelters appealing for donors and encouraging adoptions. You might also be getting encouragement from family members, particularly kids, to add a certain furry friend to their wish-list. Or maybe you are getting that annual itch to make the jump into pet ownership. We are going to fuel that urge! But we specifically want to highlight why adopting a pet comes with priceless benefits to your overall wellbeing.
1) Support Cardiac Health
I’ll bet you haven’t considered that having a pet would be good for your heart, but there are a strong range of scientific studies proving this fact. Having a pet, particularly stroking them and feeling their warmth and love, releases the hormones that help you reduce stress. This also plays a role in regulating your blood pressure and cholesterol, which takes pressure off your cardiovascular system. Their fuzziness and snuggles soothes you.
2) Improve Mental Health
Speaking of soothing you, this doesn’t just impact your body (because obviously, everything is connected). Those hormones we mentioned that help reduce stress are dopamine and serotonin, and those also happen to be your happy hormones. As a result, studies show that having a pet, through their unconditional love and your interactions with them, decreases feelings of depression and anxiety. There is something unique and irreplaceable about the relationship you have with a pet. They don’t judge you, they give you affection, you have to provide care for another and visibly see the impact of your love.
3) Boost Immunity
I’m guessing this might seem more unlikely to you, and it is definitely one of the fewer-known benefits of pet ownerships. After all, much misinformation still leads to people getting rid of their pets when they have children because of concerns around germs and potential diseases carried by pets. In actual fact, the risks of such contamination are remarkably low, and interacting with pets, particularly as children, helps reduce allergies significantly. Studies show that infants in households with pets have up to 50 percent fewer allergies. This is related to antibody levels becoming lower and corresponds to a strengthened immune system. So, you get kids who get fewer colds, which is always a bonus.
4) Get Active
First, I’d like to link this to points 1 & 2: Better heart health and better mental health. If you own a dog particularly, having to go for a walk helps depression and anxiety, and releases those positive hormones. It encourages socializing, which I’ll discuss in the next point, but brings all the benefits that come with feeling connection and kinship with others. And of course, walking means you are moving your body, which is good for your physical fitness, and likely means you’ll have increased time in nature too.
5) Become a Social Butterfly
Maybe ‘social butterfly’ is an exaggeration, but there will be different and increased chances to interact with others. If you have a dog, it might be that you meet people on walks and in parks, and just generally around your neighbourhood. If you have any animal, you might end up becoming part of communities that are interested in that particular pet, online and in-person. Socializing with your pet themselves also counts, bringing out the laughter and playfulness in you. For elderly individuals, it can add structure, meaning, and a sense of fulfillment in the caretaking of the animal, and encourage them to create new relationships out in the world as well. Basically, pets help you connect better, to them and to those around you that you may never previously have encountered or made time for! Finally, all of the above applies equally or even more so to children, teaching them patience, responsibility, companionship, and empathy.
6) You Stop Badness & Get Goodness!
When you adopt a pet rather than BUY a pet, you play an instrumental role in getting rid of puppy mills and pet shops. Puppy mills, and other ‘pet mills’, keep animals in often devastating conditions, to fulfill desires for purebred or ‘in-fashion’ breeds. The breeding compromises their health and in no way provides you with a more loving and intelligent pet. It’s pure aesthetics, and let’s be blunt: it’s barbaric. Unfortunately, most pet shops, particularly in our region which has little to no regulation around the industry, are supplied by such mills.
So don’t shop, adopt! When you adopt you are saving a life, and offering them a chance at being happy and loved. These animals have been cared for and nursed to health and often housetrained and socialized at the shelters, something you don’t get when you buy a pet. This saves money and time. So does the fact that they are often also already vaccinated, micro-chipped, neutered, and/or spayed, or otherwise these services will be offered to for a fraction of the usual cost. These shelters are usually staffed by volunteers who work tirelessly to try and take the best care of abandoned animals, and your adoption relieves their burden and helps make room for new animals who need attention.
And some final notes
I want to strongly, strongly, strongly emphasize that while I want you to adopt a pet, you should only do it if you are emotionally, physically, mentally, and financially capable of taking on the responsibility. Many animals end up in shelters because they are gifted to people, or adopted by people, who get bored of them or realize they are not up to the task. That is unfair and painful for the animal.
So please, don’t do it.
Consider it a commitment for life.
Don’t make it lightly.
But I’ll add that it’s a commitment that is worth itself a hundred times over.
If you realize you can’t make this leap though, and are craving some time with animals, volunteer at a shelter a couple of hours a week. They need your help, and you’ll get so many cuddles!
Something else I’d like to emphasize: don’t always go for the puppies, the kittens, the baby pets. They are adorable yes. They are also the most easily adopted. But when you adopt an older animal, you are offering them something even bigger. Many end up spending years in shelters, sometimes even their whole lives, because people prefer the young ones.
What can an older animal offer you that a younger one can’t? You will know their personalities pretty quickly, they are usually well-trained (less destructive), much calmer (great for kids and older people), and need less supervision. You will also know you offered them a new lease on life, and they will offer that back to you in more love than you can even handle.
So here are two organizations we know in Lebanon that you can check out for adoption. They are literal heroes:
BETA Lebanon: https://betalebanon.org/
Animals Lebanon: http://www.animalslebanon.org/
There are ample resources a mouse-click away for whichever country you are in. Just do your research and make sure they’re reputable.
Give yourself the ultimate gift!
That’s all folks.