Dr. Patricia Farrell on Medika Life

Pets Can Be Lifesavers and Rabbits Make Great Pets

Bringing an animal into our lives has benefits in terms of physical and mental health, especially for the homebound.

Our emotional and physical health can benefit greatly from having pets. The relationship between humans and animals has had a big effect on many people’s lives for thousands of years, and it still does.

Besides the health advantages of pet ownership, it is important to note that there is an increasing number of pet owners in the United States, with 60 million families having pets. Forty percent of pet owners’ annual spending on their animals—an average of $1,126—goes into providing them with food and treats.

The main way pets improve our mental health is by lowering our stress and anxiety levels. One study found that having a pet helped people with mental health problems lessen their anxiety and depression symptoms by a lot. Think of kids with autistic spectrum syndrome and pets.

Puppies offer solace and company, which can lessen feelings of social isolation and loneliness. Also, spending time with pets helps reduce our bodies’ levels of stress chemicals like cortisol, which reduce tension and anxiety. Also, talking to and playing with our dogs might cause the release of oxytocin, a hormone linked to relaxation and bonding.

Pets can enhance our physical health in several ways. Many pet owners say that their overall health is better because they walk their pets often. Studies have shown that walking a dog can aid to strengthen muscles and enhance cardiovascular health. But there are benefits of which we may be unaware and they include reducing triglyceride, cholesterol, and blood pressure levels.

Pets have advantages beyond just good physical and mental wellness. Also, they can support mingling and forming relationships with others. Individuals with strong social networks have a 50% higher chance of living longer than those with weaker ones. Pets can help us meet new people, like when we take our dogs to the park, join a club for pet owners, or do things that have to do with our pets.

Pets can also aid in the development of our sense of responsibility and purpose. Taking care of an animal demands dedication and responsibility, which can help us find our purpose and feel more valuable. Pets can help kids develop their social skills, empathy, and emotional control. Also, pets can offer support and comfort through trying times like illness or grief, helping us better cope with life’s obstacles.

Pets have many advantages, and not just for dogs. Many pet owners benefited from the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of their mental health. They learned that pets like cats, birds, and rabbits can be comforting and helpful, especially during times of loneliness and uncertainty.

Pets can significantly contribute to the preservation of our mental and physical health. These can help people get more exercise, feel less stressed and anxious, and meet new people. Taking care of a pet can also provide us a sense of responsibility and purpose, as well as comfort and support during trying times. Shouldn’t renters be permitted to have pets, too?

What About Rabbits?

About 50% of all small animals kept as pets in the US are rabbits, which is a sign of their rising popularity and there are about three million rabbits kept as pets in the United States as of 2023. People choose rabbits as pets for a variety of reasons. They were once thought to be animals kept outside the house, but rabbits have proven to be more of an ideal animal to be cared for inside our homes and apartments.

First off, rabbits may make very loving pets and have individual personalities. Every individual rabbit has its own personality, and it can be cuddly, cheeky, clingy, or fiercely independent. They are highly intelligent animals that can be trained to perform tricks.

Second, because they are so quiet, rabbits are the perfect pet for people who have trouble sleeping or live in apartments. They are also low-maintenance pets that don’t need daily walks like dogs, which makes them a fantastic option for people with hectic schedules.

Third, compared to cats or dogs, rabbits are much kinder and easier to care for by nature, making them a great pet for kids. They are a fantastic option for families because they can teach kids about responsibility and animal care.

It’s crucial to remember that rabbits need the right care and attention to remain healthy and happy. From an early age, they should be touched, socialized with, and given enough room, food, and water. They should have sanitary and welcoming living conditions, and they need frequent veterinarian examinations. As a result, it’s crucial to be ready and determined before getting a pet rabbit. So, yes, be prepared for vet bills for your bunny.

Do you know how many breeds of rabbits there are? There are 300 breeds of rabbits worldwide and some of them can weigh up to 20 lbs. The largest rabbit breed? The largest rabbit on record was 50 lbs. and four feet long. The Flemish Giant is the largest rabbit, weighing. an average of 22 lbs. and measure 4 ft. long.

One concerning aspect of rabbits is their short lifespan which may be no more than 8–10 years and that is a consideration. But that’s an average. Who’s to say your rabbit would live a lot longer with good care and love?

You could train a rabbit to wear a harness and take them outside, but remember that they can pick up ticks and fleas, so it may not be a good idea to put them on the ground.

Pets also boost social support: Having a pet can also help social relationships and social support. Having a pet can give you something in common to talk about, which makes it simpler to get along with people and make friends. They can also provide company and support, especially to older people who can feel more alone.

We had a woman in our apartment complex with a beautiful macaque she’d take outside and sit on a bench while he perched above her. People immediately stopped and talked to her and I’m sure both she and her bird loved the company.

Ultimately, having a pet can improve social ties, general well-being, and physical and mental health. Dogs aren’t the only pets, so remember rabbits are right up there as being great companions and a wonderful means to maintain your physical and mental health.

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Pat Farrell PhD
Pat Farrell PhDhttps://medium.com/@drpatfarrell
I'm a licensed psychologist in NJ/FL and have been in the field for over 30 years serving in most areas of mental health, psychiatry research, consulting, teaching (post-grad), private practice, consultant to WebMD and writing self-help books. Currently, I am concentrating on writing articles and books.


Medika Editor: Mental Health

I'm a licensed psychologist in NJ/FL and have been in the field for over 30 years serving in most areas of mental health, psychiatry research, consulting, teaching (post-grad), private practice, consultant to WebMD and writing self-help books. Currently, I am concentrating on writing articles and books.

Patricia also acts in an editorial capacity for Medika's mental health articles, providing invaluable input on a wide range of mental health issues.

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