They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but a man’s best friend is his dog.
Gender aside, I’d hand over my rather humble supply of sparkly gems for the love of a pet in a heartbeat!
According to recent data, over 14 million Canadians feel the same way. An estimated 7.5 million households in our nation are home to pets,and many people love them like their human family counterparts.
As apartment dwellers, seniors and other members of society have discovered, the presence of a pet can enhance one’s life in many ways. From fish to felines, puppies to pot-bellied pigs, pets are our friends, companions, helpers and very often, teachers. Their grasp of unconditional love is legendary, and scientific data is proving that many of our pets are capable of strong attachment and actually feel love for their humans.
Okanagan Veterinarian Dr. Tannis McCarthy, who owns Mission Creek Animal Hospital along with her husband Dr. Andrew McCartney, say sone of the biggest benefits of pet ownership is mental health.
“Owning a pet can provide a lot of stress relief,” she says. “Their welcome when you get home is enough to put a smile on your face and feel the tension of the day leave you.”
In more and more workplaces, animals are welcome to join their humans on the job. Hospitals, seniors’ centers, dentist offices and even hotels often engage the help of animals to make their patients or clients feel welcome and calm.
Dr. McCarthy said, “walking your pet is a social activity, and especially if you’re new in an area it can be a great way to meet your neighbors and strike up new friendships. A pet also helps combat loneliness and provides great companionship.”
“Cats also develop strong bonds. We have a cat that we got at four months of age who was paralyzed in the backend. That cat won’t leave Andrew alone from the minute he gets home!
”While she encourages people to become pet parents, Dr. McCarthy also cautions that prospective owners must do their homework and choose an animal that suits their lifestyle.
“Do you work at home, or are you out all day? Some breeds of dog require a great deal of activity and need to have a brisk walk two or three times a day,” she says.
For information on local dog parks, check the web site of your area’s regional district.
Cats are more independent; they don’t require walking and still provide companionship to their human. If you have a particularly busy lifestyle, a cat maybe the best option. Nearly eight million Canadians are cat owners, due in part to their feline preference but also because there is less time commitment involved than with some other animals.
Some pets have problems with being left alone all day, while others adjust very well. A visit during the day from a neighbor may help, and many people choose to have two pets to keep each other company.
One of the prime considerations when deciding to get a pet is their long-term care. Pet health insurance has become popular in recent years and gives you the peace of mind knowing that if they need special treatment – which can be very costly – the cost is covered. There are varying packages and prices for pet insurance, which starts at about $50 per month.
Dr. McCarthy emphasizes the importance of regular health maintenance for your animals. Dogs that are out in public, whether it’s at a dog park or on a walk near home, should have their vaccinations and deworming kept up to date.
Training classes are also a good investment if you’ve decided on a puppy.
“The training is as much for the owners as the pets!”