In the UK, it is estimated that 12 million people have a pet pal of their own, with many different varieties falling into the category. However, finding the right companion can be challenging, particularly when taking both your needs into consideration.
The 10 benefits of having a pet may have given you some inspiration. If so, find out more about the pets listed below.
Best for: Helping you to lose weight and keeping you safe
As they appeal to people of all ages, one of the most common pets is a dog. Their lovable behaviour and friendly disposition make them a good option for people who are looking for friendship. A provider of unconditional love, they can help identify illnesses and keep you safe at home, which is why people who live alone often opt for one as a pet.
Having a four-legged friend, such as a dog, is accompanied by a host of benefits. Quashing any feelings of loneliness, they are brilliant animals for those who spend time alone. Their dependence on their owners can instil a sense of purpose, and their need for attention means that you can develop a routine, something that is important at any age.
We spoke to The Country Dog Hotel, a family-run business offering a luxury alternative to kennels, and asked them what they believe is the biggest benefit of having a dog: “There are so many benefits! However, we think that the biggest benefit is that they love unconditionally and are so lovable.
“We have heard so many special stories about how dogs impact on people's lives. From being companions, helping to get people more motivated to exercise and keep fit, helping with mental health and giving us a sense of emotional wellbeing. They are great company and offer a lot of comfort and sometimes even meaning and purpose. We think they also help to alleviate stress. Dogs are quite simply the best!”
Although they make good companions for those spending time at home, dogs do require stimulation from outside. This means that they are great at helping you to lose weight and improve your cardiovascular health. With many different breeds of dog for you to choose from, their wants and needs will vary; although one dog may require lengthy walks to satisfy their boisterous personality, another may be happy with a short wander before heading home for some undivided attention. Depending on your fitness levels, a younger dog may not be attainable for your lifestyle.
Adopting an older dog is a fantastic choice for those who are more advanced in age. Ideally, they will already be house-trained, which will relieve some of the stress of teaching a younger pooch. Additionally, they will likely move at a slower pace, which could be seen as a benefit for many.
The Country Dog Hotel recommends doing some thorough research before committing to a dog, particularly if you require wider fitting shoes to make long-distance walks more comfortable:
“If you are looking to get a dog, research your breeds, don't choose a dog for its looks...choose a dog for its characteristics and do not disregard a rescue dog as it could turn out to be the best decision you have ever made! We have four rescue dogs and they are amazing!”
Best for: Reducing feelings of loneliness and improving your memory
If you’re looking for a pet that can provide you with company whilst being low maintenance, then a bird could be a great option. “Pet birds can be incredibly cute, playful, friendly and loyal. Plus, they're the only species of animal that will talk to you, so you'll never get lonely” shares Here Bird, a fantastic resource for those hoping to learn more about the creature.
The chatter of a bird can be a great respite for many people, especially as isolation can take its toll on your mental health. Birds can have wonderful personalities, providing you with laughter and joy as they sing, whistle and natter away. Small in size, they are perfect for smaller spaces, although they need regular trips outside their cage.
Birds require less attention than a dog, but they still need to be nurtured for you to establish a relationship with them. Here Bird informed us that: “To look after a bird correctly, you'll need to provide a lot of attention, energy, and 'out of the cage' time. Also, birds tend to live much longer than cats or dogs, so keep this in mind before taking one on. A pet parrot may outlive you, with some living up to 60 years of age”.
Birds can be incredibly affectionate and can form lasting connections. However, not all varieties are the same, so do your research to decide which is the right type for you. As with other pets such as dogs and cats, regular trips to the vets are necessary to ensure that your bird is in good health. They will be able to offer diet advice as birds need food created specifically for them. This can be more expensive than anticipated, so you will need to think about your budget before committing to a new pet.
Best for: Your health and improving your sleep
After fish, cats are the second most popular pet thanks to their independent streak. Although cats are comfortable parading around the home, they love their freedom and are happy entertaining themselves in the garden. They come with a host of health benefits too, including lowering your heart rate and minimising feelings of stress.
Many people find the presence of a pet in the home comforting, which is why a cat makes a great pet. Not only do they make good listeners, but their purr, according to Daws, “may have healing abilities”. When you take into account that cat owners typically have lower levels of cholesterol and healthier hearts, you may find that a cat makes more than just a good furry friend.
Best for: Giving your day structure and reducing your blood pressure
Colourful tanks boasting dozens of unusual looking fish may remind you of a doctor’s waiting room; however, there is a reason for this. According to Fishkeeping World: “The four main health benefits of keeping fish are: reducing stress, reducing blood pressure and heart rate, and improving behaviour and eating habits of those who suffer from Alzheimer’s.”
Falling out of a routine can be one of the hardest things to bounce back from. However, fish need their meals at regular intervals which is a good way to provide structure. When you’re responsible for something, you’re more likely to stick to the schedule. This is also true for cleaning the tank, which should be done weekly.
Best for: Offering unconditional love and helping the environment
For many people, a pet can act as a source of friendship. This is especially true for rabbit owners, who can benefit from their unconditional love. A rabbit is a lovely option for those who are looking for something quiet but that they can form a close bond with as they are full of personality.
A rabbit is a popular pet choice for people of all ages due to being low maintenance. With traditional rabbits remaining small in size for most of their lives, they’re a good option if you live in a flat or smaller house. That said, many different varieties can range in size and life span, so consider your options before committing.
The diet of a rabbit is also environmentally-friendly. These little creatures love munching on things grown in your allotment, as well as your leftover carrots from your weekly shop. Plus, their droppings make excellent manure which can be used when growing a new crop of vegetables.
Reptiles have similar benefits to any other pet. Depending on which reptile you go with, it could provide constant companionship, be a nice decorative pet much like a fish or encourage learning and responsibility. Reptiles are fantastic for people of all ages as they are contained in an enclosure rather than roaming around the home, meaning there is a limit to the turmoil they could cause.
Although they have specific requirements that must be met, this encourages responsibility and they can be very hardy which sets the owner up for success. Caring for a reptile often encourages research and learning as well as involvement in a wider community.
Northampton Reptile Centre told us that reptiles can make great pets for three reasons:
“1. Their requirements are species-specific, 2. They live in an enclosed space and 3. They can be enjoyed on multiple levels depending on the commitment you are willing to put into them.
“The first point is important because it means that there is more than likely a species of snake or lizard that you can keep regardless of how much space, money or time you have. It's just a case of finding the correct species to match your home and lifestyle while fulfilling the level of interaction you would like.
“On the second point, the fact that these pets are in an enclosed space is brilliant for many people who don't want to worry about cat or puppy proofing their home. The reptile is not going to get out of its enclosure unless it is let out and this is at the owner's discretion. Any mess it might make will be made within its enclosure and you won't have to worry about its effect on the wider household. This mainly comes into play when parents are looking for a low-impact pet for their child, when a school would like a class pet or when a person renting cannot keep pets that might damage their home.
“On the third point, the benefit of having a pet in an enclosure is that they will get as much or little interaction as you care to give them. If you don't have much time, you can find species that do not take to handling but look amazing and can be enjoyed, much like a fish would, as a display pet. Similarly, if you have a lot of time and want something interactive and intelligent, there will be a lizard to fulfil those requirements. They are found naturally all around the world so there will be climbing species for when you have little floor space but can accommodate a tall enclosure and there will be ground-dwelling species for when the opposite is true.
“In terms of husbandry, some snakes need little more than a meal once a week and freshwater and others need much more care and constant attention. When you consider the amount of effort that could be put into creating a bioactive, self-contained and planted enclosure, breeding your reptile and incubating their eggs or raising their young, you might begin to realise how far this hobby can go. It is as far as you are willing and able to take it.”
Alternatively, a horse encourages you to get out and about. “Generals and world leaders are so often portrayed on the backs of horses for a reason. It is a powerful, freeing place to be”, shares Kristen, a horse owner and blogger at If the Saddle Fits. “As an adult with a job, a family and a mile-long to-do list, there are a thousand productive things I could be doing with my time. But several times a week, I set those things aside and head to the barn. In the saddle, I can work towards goals that are purely for the joy of accomplishment. It is the best kind of self-care - because I can see the results in my horse even while it keeps me active, gives me an extra motivation to work on my wellness and makes getting out of doors part of my routine.”
What are the benefits of having a pet?
Many different pets are right for many different people. However, in order to find the right fit, it is necessary to research different breeds to discover their personalities. From pets that require constant supervision to independent creatures with a reassuring presence, you need to be sure that you can offer your new companion a nurturing environment and a loving home. To recap, these are ten benefits of having a pet:
- They can help to reduce loneliness.
- They can help you to lose weight.
- They can offer unconditional love.
- They can provide structure to your day.
- They can help you sleep better.
- They can help improve your memory.
- They can be environmentally-friendly.
- They can reduce blood pressure.
- They can help prevent health problems.
- They can keep you safe.