Your companion animal trusts you implicitly to care for his every need. In return, you regain the self-confidence that you can not only care for yourself, but for another. These benefits make pet ownership a smart, compassionate way to cope with mental health or addiction recovery challenges. That’s the verdict of several recent studies which show that interacting with animals improves overall mood, emotional stability, and social skills in people with special needs. Interested? Read on and learn more.

​​A Friend Through Thick and Thin

Loyalty is a beloved trait of dogs and cats. The faithfulness of these animals makes them ideal companions for those who feel isolated or ostracized from other human beings. Animals care nothing about your social status, personal appearance, or income level. Their only concern is that you show them kindness. In return, they give love and affection, making them ideal friends. This is a crucial point to remember, given that people need friendship in order to feel happy and fulfilled.

A Rock in Times of Trouble

The modern world is a turbulent place. Economic and social changes occur with dizzying speed. People to whom we were once close drift out of our lives. Employment situations seldom last for more than a few years. News networks blast information at us 24 hours a day, and much of it seems tilted towards the negative. Yet pets remain an oasis of stability in our lives, giving us someone to whom we can turn for reassurance any time.

The Best Ice Breaker You’ll Ever Find

Those with mental health or addiction issues often lack the social skills needed to interact with others. One way to help bridge these barriers is to adopt a pet. The act of walking a furry friend gives people the chance to meet and strike up a conversation. Plus, who can resist a dog’s innate friendliness? Many lifelong friendships - or even romances - begin with the help of a four-legged matchmaker.

Some Handy Tips for Choosing the Right Pet

Fur, Feathers, or Scales?

Dogs get most of the credit when it comes to lifting our spirits. But research shows that cats have lots to offer as well. They’re a little more aloof than dogs, but are easier to care for. They’re plush, they purr, and they poop in the same place every time. Many cats develop intimate bonds with their owners. How about birds or reptiles? That’s a complex topic. Most of our feathered friends lack the inherent sociability that comes easy to mammals. Birds need cages, the bigger the better. Many of them squawk louder than you may like. Lizards, snakes, and fish require special food and environments. Plus, they’re rather indifferent to human beings. Stick with dogs and cats and you can’t go wrong.

To Buy or To Adopt.

Adopting rescued animals makes a lot of sense. They cost far less than pets found in stores. They’ve had a tough time in life and appreciate any act of kindness. Also, some pet shops get their dogs from so-called “puppy mills” and other questionable places that no one should support. So pick a shelter animal and make the world a better place.

Prepare Your Heart and Your Head Too

Both cats and dogs can change your life in ways that might tax your patience. So educate yourself before taking the plunge. Knowing a little bit about the canine breeds is smart, even if your dog is a mutt. Feline breeds exist as well and are worth reading about. You’ll find tons of helpful resources online or at your library. Taking the time to get ready for your new companion animal will help you and your four-legged friend to enjoy many wonderful years together. Best of luck and happy pet owning!