What are pets good for?
Pets are animals that live with us and share our lives. Even if you don't have pets under your roof – such as a horse that lives in its own stable – they are important to us at an emotional level and can feel like they are a part of the family. Many people will suffer from grief if one of their pets passes away. Indeed, the relationships we form with them can be very complex. Although some animal rights activists argue that pet ownership objectifies them, most people agree that keeping a pet is humane, especially if the creature concerned has been domesticated in a similar manner to the way cats and dogs historically have. That said, few people advocate keeping wild animals as pets these days.
When are animals considered to be pets?
To most psychologists, an animal takes on a separate status in our minds when we gain companionship from it. At this stage, it can be considered a pet. People keep animals, such as bees, for specific reasons, but it is only when we make the psychological link with them as individuals that they are considered pets. That said, people who keep fish and reptiles rarely get the same level of companionship that dog and cat owners do, for instance. However, these animals can be pets if they bring any sort of affiliation in our lives. By merely caring for them, this is usually achieved.
How are pets good for your health?
Scientific research has demonstrated that stroking a pet – even a reptile which has no fur – reduces our tension. This is good for dealing with multiple conditions, such as heart disease, for example. In fact, people who have such a condition are more likely to survive for longer if they have a pet at home, studies have shown. Blood pressure can lessen when we interact with a domesticated animal, even if it is not our own.
Can pets lift your spirits?
Undoubtedly, a pet helps to make their owners feel better - especially when they are obviously welcomed home, such as when a dog wags its tail at the arrival of its owner. However, scientific studies are mixed on whether pets can help with anxiety and depression. The best results tend to occur with geriatrics who have a pet in this regards. Children tend to release less cortisol as a result of exposure to petting animals like rabbits and guinea pigs.
Can robots take the place of pets?
Some people will never be convinced that pets can be replaced by machines. However, robot pets have been shown to offer many of the aforementioned benefits of pet ownership when people have looked after them for some time. In fact, feelings of sadness and loss have been just as strong among owners of such devices when their batteries have finally expired, so it seems robots are just as important to humans as animal pets.