For many having a pet is non-negotiable, it is simply a part of life and that pet is part of the family. For others being persuaded into owning a pet is a negotiation skill in itself.
The fact is having a pet can be very enriching and provide so many benefits to pet owners, whether you take homelucky labs or a dashing dachshund.
There are some benefits and potential disadvantages that any responsible would-be pet owner should consider before committing. If that is you if you find yourself trying to decide upon a pet pooch then here are some things to consider when making your decision.
Pets provide and often need constant companionship. A pet, particularly a dog relies a lot on the human interaction of its owners. It makes them feel secure and loved.
They will be happy to see you as you walk through the door, they will sit and keep you company on the couch and some pets even act as a security blanket and ward off danger. Domestic dogs can offer up their unconditional love, loyalty, and companionship with heartwarming effects.
Equally, this is not just offered up by the pets. The depth of companionship can be felt by pet owners alike. The loving relationship that develops between a pet and owner can have an overwhelming impact on a person’s mental health and wellbeing.
The love and affection shown from a pet can help pick up your mood or make a bad day seem not quite so bad. The companionship felt between a pet and its owner will be sure to see you experience love and joy.
Pro: mental and physical health benefits
Pets can have a huge impact on the mental and physical health of owners. Coming home to a pet eager to see you in an otherwise empty house can help stave off feelings of loneliness and isolation and being responsible for another life can help harbor feelings of responsibility and worth.
Moreover, it is thought that pet owners are less likely to suffer from anxiety or depression, in light of the positive impact having a relationship with their pet can bring. Not to mention the practical physical benefits that pet owners naturally benefit from, which in turn help to improve owners’ mental health.
For example, dog owners are more likely to get outside in the fresh air and undertake daily exercise by way of dog walking. Not only does this provide obvious physical health benefits but the effect daily exercise has on your mental health has long been recognized.
Further, you can have fun shopping for your pooch and buying him some comfortable dog clothing. This will be an exciting activity for you to select different hoodie styles to make your pup look stunning.
The positive mental health benefits of this are clear, not only does it offer up owners a chance to destress and potentially partake in mood-boosting socialization.
Some pets can make owners feel more secure. Animals can be incredibly perceptive to danger and this has been seen to have even life-saving consequences.
Some owners might opt for pets with the purpose of providing an extra level of security in the home, commonly with a view to helping deter potential intruders.
The added level of protection offered up by a pet goes beyond this however, many four-legged friends have intuition and quick reactions to be marveled at.
Dogs have been known to alert owners in potentially dangerous situations, such as house fires and gas leaks, they raise the alarm when their owners are in trouble and some dogs even jump in family swimming pools after their perilous owners.
The role of a pooch safeguarding their owner can in fact be the reason behind getting a pet in the first place.
People who suffer from sight loss can rely on guide dogs to help them navigate the streets and, incredibly, seizure dogs have been trained to help spot the signs of an oncoming seizure in their owners up to 50 minutes before the seizure begins.
This can have life-saving and liberating effects for people who suffer from epilepsy or seizures.
Pro: re-homing an animal
Pet owners often choose to adopt a pet from a rescue shelter or animal home. These shelters often take in unloved or mal-treated pets who have been poorly looked after.
By choosing to adopt a pet from a shelter you are essentially rehoming a homeless pet who may have suffered potentially severe trauma in their past. You are hugely improving the quality of life of the animal in question and that benefit speaks for itself.
Regardless of how independent your dog might be, they will still require a large commitment of your time. They will need feeding, training, exercising, and grooming at the very least.
Taking on a pet in its infancy will require huge amounts of time when it comes to house training so much so that it has often been compared to having a new child. Similarly to children pets also require a lot of cleaning up after.
Whether it is keeping on top of vacuuming, sweeping, or mopping up their malting coat, or attempting to keep the house smelling fresh. If this is something that you know is likely to be an added stress within the family home do your research on the type of dog that may be less likely to shed or be lower maintenance to lighten your load.
Dogs also need regular exercise and this is a vital component of owning a dog. If you want to take on the responsibility of becoming a dog owner you have to be confident you have not just the dedication but also the time to ensure they get the exercise they need.
The maxim dogs are for life, not just Christmas is incredibly apt here as owning a dog is not a short-term commitment. A dog’s lifespan can be anything from 10-18 years and that cute tiny puppy you brought home will not stay that way for long.
By taking on a dog you have to be confident you can commit your time to that pet in the long-term, potentially over almost two decades.
You will also need to factor in the point that your dog will need you every day of those potentially two decades.
If you like to go on regular holidays or spontaneous weekends away you will have to have a plan to consider the care of your dog. It may be that they come with you or you have friends or family on hand to dog-sit. If not then there are always professional kennels who will look after your beloved furry friend but these will come at a price.
Along with requiring a considerable time commitment owning a pet is also a substantial financial commitment. Not only can they be very expensive to buy the cost of keeping a dog goes far beyond the purchase price.
You will need to be sure you can afford to feed your dog, pay for any regular grooming and accessories it may need. You may also wish to take your new puppy to puppy training classes and importantly you will have to ensure you can meet all of your pet’s healthcare costs, which can be high.
Dogs need vaccinations and potentially microchipping or neutering. They may need emergency care or medication at some point which can also be very costly.
Owners often opt for pet insurance to help limit the financial burden of potential medical bills and while this can be a great option to avoid large and unexpected bills you have to be sure you can afford the monthly premium.
Other practical considerations
This list is by no means extensive and there are of course a few other practical considerations you need to take heed of.
For example, do you have the space for the type of dog you would like? City-dwelling urban apartment owners are probably better suited to smaller low-maintenance dogs as opposed to an over-sized St Bernard.
Are you prepared to pick up after your dog? Clearing up dog poop is a must when taking your dog on a walk.
Do you have any allergies that may be triggered by dogs and their fur? Finally one of the hardest things about owning a pet is when that ownership comes to an end.
As the circle of life completes its final stages the emotional impact on pet owners can be profound. It is no exaggeration to say that pets become part of the family.
They are loved and treasured in equal measure to their human counterparts and saying goodbye can be an emotional and difficult ordeal.
The absence of your beloved four-legged friend will be felt by all, yet, sadly, it is an unavoidable part of pet ownership. Though you can’t really prepare emotionally to say goodbye to your loved one, you can prepare financially.
Saving up for end-of-life pet care can help reduce financial stress and allow you to spend more time with your dog in its final days.
While there may be some drawbacks to owning a pet, dog owners around the globe will unite in saying that for every disadvantage the advantages far outweigh the negative, and owning a dog is worth every second.
Rachel is an Austin blogger, educator, mom, wife, young breast cancer survivor writing about health, saving money, and living a happy life in Austin, Texas.
Rachel has written for HuffPost and Hometalk and has been featured on KXAN, Studio 512, Fox 7 Austin, and CBS Austin.