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Pets & Companion Animals

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Pets serve us as companions, friends and protectors. They give a great deal to us and ask little in return — just the love of a caring master who will shelter and protect them, just as we do our children. If you’re a pet lover, you may in fact treat your pets like children and even consider them as such.

The relationship between pets and humans appears to be symbiotic. Studies have shown that pets are good for us in numerous ways. Stroking an animal is known to lower heart rate and blood pressure and brighten mood. A study found that simply watching fish in an aquarium made patients waiting to undergo medical procedures less anxious.

Major Steven M. Gerardi, OTR, Commander, 528th Medical Detachment (Combat Stress Control), U.S. Army, puts it this way:

“Having tender physical contact with your pet is also good for you. Having an animal to hold, cuddle and caress has positive effects on people. Especially those who might have limited means to give or receive physical expressions of affection. Most of us have felt a warm fuzzy feeling inside just by getting your face licked by a puppy. After a hard day at work, this kind of attention can really help you to calm down and relax.

Next, simply talking to your pet can be very therapeutic. People often talk to their pets to share their thoughts, feelings, troubles and worries. Although your pet won’t give you any solutions for your problems, the very act of talking about your concerns with a good listener may help you find your own solutions. And you must admit pets are great listeners.

Finally, if you have a dog for a pet, you get to go for a walk at least three or four times a day. This affords you the perfect excuse to take time to yourself away from your stressors. These walks give you time to breathe fresh air, join with nature, collect your thoughts, make plans for the day, or just daydream. Also, watching your pet frolic and play can’t help but bring a smile to your face and help to dry up your sea of troubles. Furthermore, the light exercise you get from walking your pet helps you to deal with the physical stress reactions you have acquired in the course of your day. Specifically, walking with your dog helps you to burn up the pent up energy your stressors have caused.”

While the therapeutic aspects of owning a pet may be beneficial, very few of us consciously choose pet ownership for this reason. Pets are most often selected for companionship or, as is the case with dogs, for protection. While we value our pets for what they provide for us, many of us forget that pet ownership carries with it responsibilities. Our pets are dependent upon us to meet their needs; they cannot do this on their own. Pets require proper shelter, feeding and plenty of water and, when ill or injured, medical attention. Pets having fur require grooming. Cats and dogs require quality time spent with their owners at play. Dogs and horses require daily exercise. If you cannot provide the proper care that a pet requires, you should choose a pet whose maintenance requirements are lower or forgo having a pet.

Authored by Kenneth L. Anderson.  Original article published 17 July 2003, updated 23 January 2004.

Ten Spider Pets & Companion Animals provides information and resources that can help you locate and acquire a pet, protect the well-being and health of your pet, and maximize your pet’s quality of life. If you desire to become a pet owner, check out Pet Adoption & Rescue. If you already own a pet, you may be especially interested in Pet Care & Pet Health and Pet Products & Supplies. Our Pets & Companion Animals SiteMap immediately below will help you to quickly locate the resources you seek.

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