Animal Behaviour

 How Caring for a Pet can Make You Happier and Healthier


Professionally trained helper animals—such as guide dogs for the blind—offer obvious benefits to humans. However, the average domestic pet, such as a dog, cat—even a goldfish—can also provide us with many therapeutic benefits. Pets can ease loneliness, reduce stress, promote social interaction, encourage exercise and playfulness, and provide us with unconditional love and affection.


 Finding a pet that meets your needs and lifestyle

While people who have pets tend to be happier, more  independent, and feel more secure than those without pets, it’s important to  select the type of pet that is best for you. You’ll benefit most from having a  pet whose needs are compatible with your lifestyle and physical capabilities.

Lifestyle considerations that influence your choice  in a pet

  • Little  outdoor activity – If most of your time is spent at home, consider pets  that would be happy to stay with you in that environment. You may enjoy playing  with or cuddling a cat or a bunny; watching fish or reptiles; or talking or  singing along with a bird.
  • High  activity level – If you’re more active and enjoy daily activities outside  of your home, especially walking or running, a dog might be right for you.  Canine companions thrive on outdoor exercise, keeping you on the move.
  • Small  children and the elderly – Families with small children or elderly living in their homes should consider the size and energy level of a pet.  Puppies and kittens are usually very active, but delicate creatures that must be  handled with care. Large or rambunctious dogs could accidentally harm or knock over  a small child or adult who is unsteady on their feet.
  • Other  animals in household – Consider the ongoing happiness and ability to adjust  of the pets you already have. While your cat or a dog might love to have an  animal friend to play with, a pet that has had exclusive access to your  attentions may resent sharing you.
  • Home  environment – If a neat, tidy home, free of animal hair, occasional muddy  footprints and “accidents” is important, then a free-roaming dog or long-haired  cat may not be the best choice. You may want to choose pets that are confined  to their quarters, such as fish, birds, hamsters, or reptiles.
  • Landscaping  concerns – With certain pets, your landscaping will suffer. Many dogs will  be tempted to dig holes in your lawn, and dog urine can leave yellow patches—some  say unaltered females cause the most damage.
  • Time  commitment – Finally, and perhaps most importantly, keep in mind that  you’ll be making a commitment that will last the lifetime of the pet—perhaps  10, 15, or 20 years with a dog or cat; as many as 30 years or more with a bird.

Choosing between a dog or a cat

Dogs and cats are the most common household pets. While on  occasion, you’ll see someone walking a cat on a leash or a dog that uses a  litter box, typically the needs and natural behaviors of dogs and cats are  different.

Owning a pet is not for everyone

Having a pet is not a miracle cure for mental illness. Owning  a pet is beneficial and comforting only for those who love and appreciate domestic animals. If you’re simply not a “pet  person,” pet ownership is not going to provide you with any therapeutic  benefits or improve your life. For other people, owning a pet may simply not be  practical. Some of the drawbacks are:

  • Pets cost money. Food bills, veterinary  care, licenses, grooming costs, toys, bedding, boarding fees, and other  maintenance expenses can mount up. The unemployed or the elderly, on limited  fixed incomes, may find it difficult to afford a pet.
  • Pets require time and attention. As any  dog owner will tell you, there’s nothing therapeutic about coming home to a dog  that has been locked up in the house on his own all day long. Dogs need daily  exercise to stay calm and well-balanced; most other pets require at least daily  care and attention. Pets can even curb some social activity, as they can only  be left alone for a limited time.
  • Pets can be destructive. Any pet can  have an occasional accident at home. Some cats may be prone to shredding  upholstery, some dogs to chewing shoes. While training can help eradicate  negative, destructive behavior, they remain common in animals left alone  without exercise or stimulation for long periods of time.
  • Pets require responsibility. Most dogs,  regardless of size and breed, are capable of inflicting injury on people if not  handled responsibly by their owners. Even cats can scratch or bite. Pet owners  need to be alert to any danger, especially around children.
  • Pets carry health risks for some people. While there are some diseases that can be transmitted from cats and dogs to  their human handlers, allergies are the most common health risk of pet  ownership. If you or a family member has been diagnosed with a pet allergy,  carefully consider whether you can live with the symptoms before committing to  pet ownership. Also consider that some friends or relatives with allergies may no  longer be able to visit your home if you have a pet.

Alternatives to pet ownership

If full-time pet ownership is not right for you—or if you  want to give pet ownership a trial run before making a commitment—Beamsville 4Paw Rescue offers a Foster to Own  program. Dogs or cats that are available for  adoption can be fostered in your home so you can decide if that pet is right for you .

Fostering to own is great if you have an existing pet and think you may like to add another member to your family. Fostering to own will give you a chance to see if this pet is the right fit for your family. It will also give you time to see if other pets you may have in your home, or other family members can get along with the animal before you make the final commitment to adopt that animal.

Not Ready to Own a Pet… Become a Foster!

We are in desperate need of responsible foster families to foster cats,
kittens, puppies and dogs. We can only take in as many animals as we can foster.
All it takes is one small room and a big heart. We supply all food, litter and
supplies. This program is wonderful for seniors who worry about their Pet if they have to relocate to a facility that does not allow pets.

Beamsville 4Paw Rescue has a Foster Program that provides all the food and supplies.