Over the years, humans have had to learn to live in the company of animals. As its importance became evident, the act of keeping a pet became more prevalent among people of all races, all economic and all political classes.
People kept pets for different reasons ranging from having a company to having security. For whatever reason, the act of keeping a pet have been proven to have major advantages to the life of the owner and his household.
What is a pet?
A pet is an animal kept by an individual to keep them company and be a source of amusement or security.
This is opposed to a working animal (also known as the beast of burden kept to perform hard labor especially in the farm), livestock (which is often reared in other to make money from selling it or it’s products), or a laboratory animal (kept for research purposes).
Most famous pets are often known to be smart, have a charming appearance, and a personality that people can relate to. Some pets are acquired out of an act of benevolence and charity, and they are accepted and cared for by the owner.
Such animals must have strayed too far and had lost their previous owner.
Examples of pets
Other examples of commonly kept animals include:
Guinea pig, mice, turtle, snail, rabbit, lizard, chinchillas, ferrets, hamsters, gerbils, rats, parrots, passerine, snakes, alligators, turtles, crocodiles, fishes, freshwater and saltwater snail, salamander, frogs, and alligators.
Other animals that are kept as pets include tarantulas, hermit crab, ducks, goats, geese, finches, canaries, Doves, pigeons, quail, falcons, hedgehogs, squirrels, sugar gliders, geckos, skinks, tegus, centipedes, whip scorpion, and many more. Small pets may be classified as pocket pets.
Advantages of keeping a pet
- Keeping pets enhances the physical health of the owner. With pets around, there is a greater chance of getting up to take a walk with it on a cool evening or even taking a jog down the road. This increased chance of exercise which decreases blood pressure, decreases cholesterol level, aids digestion, and improves blood circulation in the body.
- keeping a pet creates a very positive environment around the house. Whether they are small or big, they will always embrace your home with their amazing personality.
- It increases your sense of worth as a person. It feels good to be responsible for someone or for something. You feel like a parent to your pet by showing them love and getting even more love in return. They are soft, kind, loyal and they never judge you no matter how faulty you were. When you are sick, they could sit all day next to you, hoping you would get better.
- Pets can be of service to people residing in a long-term care facility, such as hospitals or nursing homes. Physical contact with another living thing is something that is always missing in an elderly’s life, and pets could fill this gap.
- Pets improve the social life of the owner. It creates a stronger relationship between the owner and the community. Everyone loves pets, especially when it is cuddly and mushy, so you are likely to make more acquaintances if you keep a pet around. People are also likely to visit you and your pets.
- Pets can offer companionship. With pets around, you can never feel lonely because you would have someone to talk to when you are feeling down, and they will even try to cheer you up.
- Your home will be safe from burglars. Keeping a pet like a dog can offer protection against theft and attack from unwanted strangers who might have come to harm you. Other pets who are not strong enough to attack can send off warning signals and inform you of impending danger.
- Pets can be potty trained to make your job easier. You can also teach them tricks with which they can entertain and amuse you.
Disadvantages of keeping a pet
- keeping a pet can be very demanding and requires a change in lifestyle if you are to get one. Although some require less attention than the others, they all still need your love and attention. You need to dedicate some part of your time each day for them. Mere cleaning and feeding doesn’t cut it.
- They are sometimes expensive to care for, and you have to spend a lot on food and accessories. They also need medical care from time to time, which costs a lot of money. When you are not available, you will have to hire the services of a pet sitter.
- Pets won’t be there forever, and losing them will cause major heartbreak, especially when the owner has become so attached to them, which is mostly always the case.
- Pets, especially dogs, can be a nightmare without proper training. They become messy, barking unnecessarily and scattering things. They may become aggressive, and this can cause anxiety in their owners.
- Maintaining proper hygiene for your pet can be difficult. You would have to clean them up every day to keep ticks away. Some breed of dogs requires even more attention to grooming. Owners would have clean their poop, which can be everywhere all the time. Pet owners need to ensure their pets have access to clean and freshwater at all times.
- Keeping a pet requires a lot of patience. You must be willing to understand them all the time and see things from their perspective. Unfortunately, not everyone has that amount of patience in them.
- Keeping pets can be harmful to their health if certain requirements are not met. Inappropriate feeding may produce clinical effects. For instance, it may prove fatal if dogs consume chocolates or grapes and other foods that are not healthy for them.Certain houseplants can be harmful if consumed by pets. Examples of such plants are Easter lilies, begonia, and Aloe Vera. Cats and Dogs that reside in industrialized cities are more likely to suffer from obesity. Kidney failure, liver problems, joint pains, and cancer are all conditions that may emerge as a result of obesity.
Health risks associated with keeping a pet includes any of the following:
- Dander, fur, or feathers of pets could aggravate asthma and allergies.
- It could cause stress as they need to be attended to every now and then.
- Animal hygiene problems could lead to the spread of diseases and infections.
- Pets could cause one to trip over and sustain serious injuries.
- Sometimes, bites and attacks could lead to death.Pets in long-term care institutions
Pets can be beneficial to patients staying in a long-term care facility, such as nursing homes and hospitals. Pets help theses patients to cope with emotional issues relating to their illness.
Size of pets, amount of care the breed needs, and size of the care institution are factors that are considered before choosing a pet for a nursing home. Pets considered appropriate undergo a screening process. If it is a dog, additional training programs are given to it to become a therapy dog.
There are different types of dogs that exist, and some of them include therapeutic visitation dogs, facility therapy dogs, and animal-assisted therapy dogs. Amongst all these, therapeutic visitation dogs are the most common.
These dogs are household pets whose handlers make out time to visit all these long-term care institutions.
Stay healthy around pets
As adorable as pets can be, keeping pets can pose a threat if not handled properly. They can cause injuries by accident. Some pets can be aggressive if not trained properly, and it is very dangerous to the owner and the people around them.
Pets can be a source of infection, meaning it is absolutely necessary to take precautionary measures while dealing with them. It is important that you do the following if you are keeping pets:
- Always wash your hands.after playing with your pets, after feeding them and after handling their equipment.
- Wash your hands before eating or drinking, before preparing a meal and after removing soiled clothes or shoes. Running water and soap is best to wash hands with, but you can make use of sanitizers where these are not available.
- Always remove the dog’s feces using a waste bag and dispose of them properly. Dog poops can contain germs and parasites that could cause diseases and infections to the owner and those around.
- Provide regular veterinary care for your pets. Provide it with proper diet, fresh water, clean bedding, and plenty of exercises. Remember your pet’s vaccine, deworm them regularly, and control tick and flea.
- By keeping your pet healthy, you also keep your family healthy. Keep in touch with your veterinarian and endeavor to ask questions that might be of concern to your pet’s health.
- Make the kids develop a healthy relationship with the pets. Teach them compassion and responsibility. Teach them to stay safe around pets. Keep younger kids under your watch when they are in direct contact with the animal. Don’t let them kiss pets or put their hands or other objects in their mouth after handling pets.
Keep wildlife in the wild
No matter how cuddly or cute a wide animal can be, avoid touching them to reduce the risk of illness and injury.
Do not feed wild animals like raccoons, prairie dogs, and don’t bring them home. When you see a wild animal that looks abandoned, do not try to take care of it yourself because it might be dangerous to you and your family.
Call the authorities instead because they are sure to handle the situation better.
Diseases in pets
Just like humans, animals sometimes deviate from normal body functioning. One of the characteristics of an animal suffering from a disease condition is head pressing.
Head pressing is an obsessive act of pressing the head against a wall or any other flat surface for no reason. Pet owners usually ignore this behavior, but behind this condition, there are different causes.
Some of these causes include:
- Brain disorders: This condition is more common in dogs and less common in Cats. It means that your pet has a swelling in the brain. The diagnosis rate in older dogs tends to be less when compared to young and middle-aged dogs. Some of the symptoms may include disorientation, unusual behavior, loss of balance, fever, and low energy.
- Metabolic disorder: This disorder may be seen in some specific organs or even a whole system of your pet. This problem can be inherited from their parents, and it might also be a result of breed or age. Hypothyroidism and diabetes are the most common side effects of both cats and dogs.
- Head injury: This is often seen in pets that have been involved in an accident, whether it is road accidents or home accidents. This often causes head trauma. Head trauma could either cause primary problems, which is the effect that occurs at the same time as the trauma. These problems could also be secondary, and it occurs minutes later after the trauma due to physical and biochemical combination that leads to hypertension.
- Liver problems: The liver’s main duty is to get rid of any harmful substance in the blood. Abnormalities with this organ can be very dangerous when it comes to pets. Different chemicals, diseases, infections, and medications can cause harm to the liver. In dogs, the most common effects are diabetes, cushing syndrome, or hepatitis. In cats, infectious peritonitis and fatty liver disease are also associated with liver disease.
- Brain tumor: When a mass is created in the brain of an animal, it is called a brain tumor. A brain tumor is said to be primary when the mass is derived from its own cells while it is secondary if the tumor was created in other body parts before it broadens to the brain. The chances of being diagnosed with a brain tumor increase as they get older. Some of the signs it can exhibit are trouble with thinking, trouble in walking, and breathing, physical pain, or poor balance.
- Exposure to toxins: Intake of human food or medicine, intake of chemicals such as bait for rodents, plants, or garden products can cause intoxication. A dog or a cat could be intoxicated if it is always resting its head on some surface.
Considerations for choosing a pet
When taking up the duty of keeping a pet, every member of the family must be ready to provide a comfortable home for it—a home where all his physical, emotional, and social needs are met.
You should discuss everyone’s responsibility to the pet and discover how much time each member of the family is willing to dedicate to the pet.
The responsibilities could include training, grooming, socializing, feeding, and more. The person who would bear the financial cost of the welfare of the pets will also be discussed.
Some questions to consider before keeping a pet could include the following:
- Lifestyle/ activities: This is one of the most important things to consider when thinking of keeping a pet. Do you lead a sedentary life we are you always on the go? Are you a lonely housewife who is looking for an exercise companion or a pet to cuddle and give you listening ear while you do the dishes or do the laundry.
- Home/environment: The type of home you live in and in what area it is located should also be considered. Whether you live in the city, suburbs, or out on the country. Do you live in a public apartment or in a private apartment, and how much space you have both indoor and outdoor should easily determine if you are going to keep a pet or not. If yes, what kind of pet do you think would thrive in this environment?
- Health condition: One can only take care of a pet if he or she is in good health. Consider your physical, mental, and social health, before considering keeping a pet. Keeping a pet can be physically demanding, so be sure you can handle the challenges that come with it before getting one. Pets also need love and affection, be sure you are emotionally ready to offer this.
- Time: Ask yourself if you have enough time to spare for the pet. Some pets need someone to stay with them all the time, although others can be left for a longer period of time.
- Money: keeping a pet requires a financial commitment, with some being less expensive than the others. You will have to make provision for food, shelter, health care, recreation, and other daily needs. These things require money, lots of money.
- Your needs: Different people keep pets for different reasons. Before choosing a pet, you need to consider what you need in a pet. Are you looking for an exercise companion, a cuddly companion, or something you can play and have fun with?
- Needs of others: As much as your needs are important, the needs of other people staying in the house is important as well. Their age, schedule, and personality will influence your decision. If there are kids in the house, get a playful and easy-going pet.If there are teenagers, get a not-so-messy and not-so-clingy pet. If members of the household are always busy, get a pet that doesn’t require so much attention. Living with your family means that every now and then, you might need to do some compromising.
Kindly note that kids below the age of 5 and elders above the age of 65 have a weak immune system and will be more exposed to disease and infections spread through animals.
Pregnant women should also avoid contact with pet rodents as much as possible to prevent exposure to the lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus. This virus can cause birth defects.
Keeping a pet has proven to be an act worth the stress. This is because keeping pets comes with many rewards. You get a new buddy who is willing to listen to you, share your space, and share your time so you would never have to be alone.
You also have an exercise buddy and someone to help you watch out for danger. It is, however, advised that serious considerations are made before choosing a pet so that one doesn’t end up with the ugly picture.
Are you a pet owner? If you are, what pet do you own? Are there extra tips on keeping a pet you’d like to share? Kindly do so in the comments below.