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Forge Your Wealth is meant for education and entertainment and should not be considered financial advice.
When I was still working on my PhD, my cat-loving wife came home from work and I could tell she was upset. When I asked, she said she would tell me after she got settled and said I had some mail. She checked some of hers. In the mail was a notice about the Philadelphia Zoo trying to breed snow leopards. She instantly squealed and had a smile on her face. Here was how the conversation went:
My wife/editor: “Oh my gosh! They are going to get the snow leopards together. They are going to get together and make little baby kitties!”
Me (I paused for about 10 seconds): “So…how, was your day, or did you forget?” (I was trying to poke fun).
My wife/editor: “I…I actually don’t remember.”
To this day we still have no idea what made her so upset.
While I have previously brought up the massive hidden costs in owning a pet, there are clearly some benefits to owning a pet if it can make my wife forget about what made her upset from just a picture of a cat. In this post I will go over these benefits. And since Forge Your Wealth is a personal finance blog, I will also tie the benefits to potential financial benefits.
Help With Mental Health
Pets can help with mental health. This includes depression, anxiety, loneliness, and even helping to make friends, to name a few. In 2013, Americans spent $187.8 billion for mental health treatment, costing on average around $600. This does not include the costs of the mental ailment, which could be costly, especially if it involves addiction of any kind not to mention lost opportunities due to the ailment, those are priceless.
We have all heard that pets teach children responsibility. It may, but there are many guidelines to follow for this. In my opinion, convincing me that owning a pet will teach a child responsibility is like trying to convince me that having a child will teach an irresponsible adult responsibility. It all depends on the person and I would say that using this reason for the main purpose of having either is a mistake.
Lowering Chances Of Allergies
I have heard this reason consistently. It actually makes sense. The human body adjusts to molecular signaling all the time. Healthy exposure to molecular signals helps prevent a severe response to what is normally a healthy dosage of molecular signals. If anything goes wrong in this process health issues including diabetes, cancer, even many symptoms of viral infections can occur.
Do we know everything about these? No, of course not. And especially not when it come to allergies. And there appear to be many factors. For instance, babies raised with no pets in the first 12 months had almost a 50% chance of developing allergies. Being raised with one pet lowered it to 43%, being raised with 3 lowered it to 24%. Fewer allergies are definitely among the benefits of owning a pet and there are many benefits including fewer medical bills and the opportunity cost of more controlled allergies could be similar to better mental health. You do not need to worry about sneezing or wheezing putting a pause in your life similar to how mental health could put a pause in your life.
Having a pet has multiple physical health benefits. They can help with blood pressure, cholesterol, and even improve your immune system. However, I believe this is more of an effect caused by exercising more. Almost every dog needs to be walked and I have seen my share of cats being walked in the park next to my home. Even just playing with pets provides more exercise than any video streaming service ever will. Discipline will do more to help you exercise along with having a pet.
Better Chance To Get Dates
I know too many people who actually adopted a dog to get dates. The weirdest part is it works. Granted I hear more about men trying this out to “pick up women,” not much about the other combinations. I suppose women and others see people who take care of pets as sensitive people. But I also know people like animals more than they do other people on average.
I do not see this as one of the benefits to owning a pet. Relationships may generally be healthful for people, but only if they are healthful. I cannot see a relationship built too much on the other person liking your pet as a healthful relationship. The person has to like you more than the animal to be a healthful relationship.
There are many benefits to owning a pet. Pets can keep you mentally and even arguably physically sharp. These benefits could be used to help you forge your wealth. However, I believe the benefits people find in owning pets are more the best coming out of those people. Pets may be a liability, but not to many pet owners. The people who benefit most from pet ownership tend to be the ones who exhibit those characteristics already. Pets just amplify those beneficial characteristics.