A lot of people own pets. That pet may be a dog, a cat, a rabbit, a horse or even a spider - maybe a snake. No matter what the pet, they can be one of the most wonderful parts of our existence. They can make us smile, laugh and it is psychologically proven that they can improve our mental health.
I have had a dog for little under three years. I was never allowed a dog due to the pain when they pass away but after many years of begging, I was surprised with a Shiba Inu-cross-Tibetan Terrier puppy. Her name is Sox and she is the light of my life. She can make me smile when I'm crying, she makes me laugh every day and I don't know what I'd do without her. Although she hasn't got rid of my anxiety or my PTSD or any of the many mental health issues I suffer with, she has helped to make me see that life isn't so bad and she's helped to get on with my life even on the worst days. Pets don’t understand mental health, despite there being evidence that they can also experience it just as we can, but they somehow make it better.
The Mental Health Foundation says that pets are great for helping us with depression, loneliness, ADHD, autism and stress.
‘Pets are a great motivator for people. Pets can also have calming effects on their owner. Just by stroking, sitting next to or playing with a pet can gives owning a chance to relax and calm their minds.’
‘A pet is great companion. They give owners company, a sense of security and someone to share the routine of the day with. Pets can be especially valuable company for those in later life and living alone.’
‘A pet is a great listener, and offers unconditional love and will not criticize a child for having too much energy. This can aid a child's self-confidence.’
‘People in later life experiencing typical life stresses can be comforted by a companion pet. It is thought that a dog can be a stress buffer that softens the effects of adverse events on a person.’
This shows that pets are brilliant things for those who suffer with mental health issues. It seems that no matter what the issue, they can make everything seem that little bit better.
Even if you don’t have a diagnosed mental condition and just get a bit sad sometimes, like everyone does, pets are a great investment. Dogs are particularly loving, but maybe I’m biased for having a dog myself.
Not only can they help with your mental health but one of the obvious benefits is your physical health. Not all but some animals, but particularly dogs, require a walk or two. They need the opportunity to run about and do their business to save you having to clean it up if they end up doing it in the house. However, dogs aren’t like us. They can’t just decide that they need the toilet or that they fancy going for a walk and then do it. They need us to help them do all these things and so by taking them out, you’re getting exercise too which is good for your heart, lungs and body. Fresh air doesn’t do anyone any harm, and especially us teenagers who appear to spend everyday inside the house on our consoles and phones.
However, despite all these benefits, pets are still a massive responsibility. While they may care for you, they themselves also require a lot of care, it’s a lot of work. You need to be able to dedicate a lot of time to them and, not only be equipped with the time but, the money too. They need exercise, food, water, toys, a bed and none of this is free. It can be really expensive to own a pet so it needs to be financially viable so make sure that you're aware of that and able to adequately provide for this new fluffy member of your family.
Overall, pets are a great thing for anyone who needs a little laughter or some smiles in their life. Just make sure you know what you're getting in to, because a pet is for life - not just for Christmas.
Teenagers With Experience is an online platform ran by teenagers for teenagers. We provide support through sharing our own experiences and providing advice based from this. If you need support, feel free to reach out to us on one of our social media platforms. We will do our best to support you and if we feel we cannot we will direct you to more suited, professional support.