The Practical and Mental Health Benefits of Pet Adoption

Deciding to take on a pet is a huge leap and commitment, but it can also be a positive life change, both for the animal and the owner. There are clearly practical advantages as well as social ones for the animal, the most obvious being that the pet gets a new chance for a long, loved life again. However, there are a good number of indirect benefits as well, and the entire experience of taking on a pet can fundamentally change how a person thinks, looks at their own life and grows internally too.

Pets Need Humans

Whether they’re dogs, cats, turtles, birds or even ponies and horses, pets define us as human beings. They also readily depend on us for their survival and care, especially if domesticated. However, while it is possible to obtain brand new species and as young, adopting a pet that needs a new home is even more important, especially for the thousands of cats and dogs that otherwise have to be euthanized to make room for new arrivals. Animals aren’t oblivious, they know when they are at a pound it could mean the end of their survival as they know it. There is a sense of foreboding shared by the animals held in such facilities and smells. However, adoption efforts both by city pounds and non-profits try to produce a different story for these animals, at least one by one where possible.

The Practical Benefits of Adoption

There are lots of obvious reasons to adopt a pet. Some of them are flat out immediate as soon as the animal is taken on as a new pet. They include:

  • Life – a pet gets to live longer than a few days or weeks in a holding facility. By saving a pet’s life, it gives them a second chance to reach full age and experience. Every living being is driven to survive, but domesticated cats and dogs are highly dependent on humans to make that possible. Adoption is the key act anyone can take to save a pet’s life. Otherwise, with many facilities, many unadoptable pets end up being euthanized.
  • Ripple Effect – By adopting an animal from a control facility or nonprofit organization, doing so makes room for another animal that’s been picked up and needs a place to be cared for until adopted as well. Overcrowding is a real challenge, frequently driving cities to euthanize sooner to keep pace with demand and new arrivals. So, adoption saves one pet life immediately and could reasonably help another pet live longer to be adopted as well.
  • Adopted Pets Know It – There’s something about experience in an adopted pet that it understands what has happened when it gets to go home with a person. And that connection frequently turns into very strong loyalty. Pets seem to understand that the alternative is to end up back at the adoption facility or worse. So, they wanted to be adopted if they are still compatible with people.
  • Mixed Breeds Do Well – Biologically stronger many times than full-breeds that may carry genetic concerns from too much inbreeding. Mixed breed dogs tend to be extremely healthy and frequently have stronger immune systems. That means they have a very strong probability of a long life and can fend off disease better too. They have the idea of adoption pets because they are not attractive to breeders and really just work best as pets.
  • Adoption Saves Money – The cost of buying a dog or cat, especially a pure breed, is incredibly expensive today, well into the thousands of dollars. With an adopted pet, however, there is only the administrative costs for the paperwork. Sometimes, even that gets waived during adoption campaigns to move more pets, usually during the end of the year and the holiday season when families are most likely to be receptive to a new dog or cat. Additionally, the animals are fully examined, vaccinated and cleaned up before adoption, as well as spay or neutered in many cases to avoid any accidents and additional strays later on. Additionally, older animals already know their training and how to act around humans, including being potty-trained, which can save a lot of money by avoiding “puppy accidents” in a home (containment tools like those offered by Clearly Loved Pets ( can help.

There are also big health benefits for an owner as well. Everything ranging from physical advantages to mindset, health and perspective change thanks to regular care of a pet. Unlike a techy gizmo that just turns off and sits on a shelf when not in use, an animal is interactive and wants to be involved. So, a pet owner takes on a life partner with an adoption. That includes a number of benefits for the owner too, including:

  • Physical Exercise – Cats not so much, but dogs definitely need to be exercised. Both for their health and reducing anxiety and stress, dogs being taken for a walk regularly helps exercise a pet owner too. And, interestingly enough, regular vigorous walking is a key activity that helps with personal digestion, weight control and blood pressure regulation. We weren’t meant to be sitting all day long, and adopted dogs can help fix that problem with regular walking and movement.
  • Blood Pressure Impact – Along with movement activity, being with a pet, petting it, interacting and watching it helps calm people down. That goes a long way in reducing daily stress and blood pressure, which can have a positive influence on relaxing and sleeping better at night. That in turn allows the body to repair and improve its immune system. So, a pet goes a long way in helping an owner’s internal health recover.
  • Better Heart Health – Pets make people move. Granted, it’s not always play; sometimes people have to move to clean up messes. Nonetheless, dog-care activity gets people out of their chairs and moving their circulation. That improves heart health, and it also reduces the risk of a heart attack in pet owners versus those who did not own a dog.
  • Weight Improvement – Physical exercise with walking helps a person burn calories. When that happens regularly, it not only consumes extra energy, the activity also starts burning off fat, which lowers overall body weight. Again, dog owners tend to be thinner and have fewer obesity issues than those who didn’t have a dog.

More importantly, adopted animals help their owners settle mental health concerns better. Multiple concerns tend to do better with an animal around then if there was no interaction with a regular pet. These advantages include:

  • Lower Depression Risk – Depression really kicks in when pressure and loneliness combine with anxiety. Pets, however, and especially dogs, tend to sense their owner’s distress and work hard to help calm their owners. Whether that’s just providing comfort, interacting, or showing concern, dogs have a huge influence on those who suffer from depression, given the person purpose again to pull out of their negative space and start functioning again.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Treatment – Animals don’t judge. They sense concern and, through pack mentality, trying to reduce pain or stress by providing comfort. Therapy animals have repeatedly proven their worth, both for victims as well as for people suffering for recurring stress, fear and shock in the form of PTSD. As a result, one of the strongest recommendations made is for those suffering to adopt a pet, ideally a dog, to help with recurring mental pain.
  • Anxiety Reduction – Similar to depression, having a pet helps reduce a person’s anxiety. Dogs and cats just look at their owners as an entity of care. They don’t get involved in politics, social issues, people problems – they just have basic, honest care. And that empathy for an owner helps reduce anxiety and relax a pet owner again and again. No surprise, some people even prefer their animals versus being around people as a result.

Finally, for children, adopted pets are a great way to help children learn responsibility, which then translates to concern for others later in life. They learn how to moderate their own actions, provide care for a pet and others, be empathetic, and to understand how time and age affect an animal. Probably one of the strongest lessons a child learns with a pet, due to how fast an animal ages versus a human, is that time brings senior issues and ultimately the end of life for a loved pet. Dealing with loss and understanding how to manage grief becomes a life lesson any child growing up can grow from and be prepared to handle later in life as an adult. But, before ever getting to that point, the child will have also spent many years learning care, discipline, love, sympathy and fun with a pet too. It’s a life-learning experience adopting a pet with children.

A Powerful Impact in Lots of Ways

Adopting an animal clearly changes lots of lives and brings with it a basketful of positive impacts. Again, there are plenty of ways to have a pet as a baby or new young pup or kitten. However, adopting a pet means so much more and makes such a huge difference as well.