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Pet ownership – what’s in it for me?

The health benefits of owning a pet are not only proven they are many, including emotional, physical and mental benefits.

Here are the Pet Food Industry Association of Southern Africa (PFI)’s top 8 reasons to get to your nearest shelter and consider adopting a new pet:

  1. Reduction of allergies:

  2. Childhood exposure to pets can reduce the chances of them developing related allergies by up to 33%, as discovered by James E. Gern, paediatrician at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In addition to this, their immune systems were found to be stronger too.

  1. Social aid:

  2. By practicing responsible pet ownership, you open yourself up to a new world of social opportunities, and your pet is the perfect ice breaker to boot. From training classes to social encounters at the park to merely giving you an easy topic of discussion with which to engage a stranger – who knows, it may be the start of a new, deep relationship based on a mutual love for animals!

  1. Lower blood pressure & cholesterol:

  2. It seems fitting that your heart should benefit from pet ownership – studies have found that pet owners benefit from decreased blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels – the end result being a lower risk of suffering a heart attack.

  1. Improved mood

  2. There really is nothing quite like coming home to a pet – the sense of purpose that comes with being responsible for another life, coupled with the unconditional love received in return really does wonders for one’s mood.

  3. The companionship one shares with a pet fights feelings of loneliness, replacing it with a sense of joy.

  4. Alzheimer’s patients benefit from fewer anxiety episodes when sharing their space with an animal.

  5. Stress levels are lowered with regular interactions with pets.

  1. Teaches children responsibility

  2. When children are involved in caring for the household pets they develop a sense of responsibility and understanding of routine and contributing to a wider society.

  1. Aids learning & development

  2. In the presence of a non-judgmental animal, the more relaxed environment facilitates learning.

  3. Sharing a relationship with a pet also allows children to express themselves more easily, aiding their emotional development.

  1. Encourages a sense of nurturing, empathy and builds family bonds

  2. Since pets are more and more being seen as part of the family, family activities are often planned around them. Walking or grooming the dog, or chuckling at a cat’s amusing behaviour are often family activities that lift the mood in the home and offer a break from life’s hectic pace.

  1. Increased activity:

  2. Hitting the gym will never be as enticing as heading to the park to walk the dog – pet ownership truly does provide added motivation for getting active. Not only will this benefit you and your pet’s health, but it will do wonders to strengthen your relationship.

If that isn’t enough to get you to consider opening your home to a new pet, a monetary saving may be – pet ownership resulted in a savings of US$11.7 billion in US health care costs in 2015!


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