Companion animals make great pets. They take the whole "human's best friend" notion to a whole new level. Unlike other pets, companion pets keep you occupied and help you cope with loneliness, stress, and disabilities.
Why do you need a companion animal?
It’s been medically proven that animals can help lower your blood pressure and beat stress and loneliness. Many people suffer from a lack of companionship, which often leads to the constant feeling of loneliness and depression.
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates that 16.2 million U.S. adults had at least one major depressive episode in a year. This represents 6.7 percent of the U.S. adult population.
In these instances, a companion pet can be beneficial to combat loneliness and depression. They're great listeners and never get sick of spending time with you.
In a recent Human-Animal Bond Research Institute survey, 74% of pet owners said having a pet improved their mental health.
Desiree Wiercyski, a life coach in Fort Wayne, says that "A pet can remind you that you're not alone. Pets offer unconditional love, which can be extraordinarily soothing when feeling isolated."
Although these pets aren't individually trained to perform specific tasks like the service pets, they still make the best companion animals.
So, what are the different types of animals that will become your new companion?
Top 5 Companion Animals
Here is the list of companion pets that might be the right fit for you.
Dogs are incredibly affectionate and caring animals. They have been with their human companions since they were first domesticated 10,000 years ago. The years of living together have conditioned them to spend significant time with humans.
Dogs' tendency to mercilessly lick their owners is a prime example of their affection. If you're wondering, they love socializing with humans, but if you're not convinced, here are some known facts about keeping a companion dog.
- They’re scientifically proven to lower stress and blood pressure.
- They help their owners to conquer anxiety.
- They boost the sense of self-esteem.
- They support social connections.
- They become a close part of your family, often helping in raising small kids.
Here how you can make the best out of your relationship with a dog.
- Go for a daily walk with your dog.
- Indulge in playtime with them.
- Indulge in physical activity together, such as exercising, hiking, running, and throwing Frisbee.
- Spend time snuggling and talking
Some of the most preferred companion dog breeds are Papillion, Chihuahua, French bulldog, Golden Retriever, Shih Tzu, Irish Wolfhound, American Staffordshire Terrier, and Pug.
Cat is one of the most beloved pets in the world. In fact, it is the most kept pet in the US.
According to a national pet owners survey, there was a total of approximately 95.6 million cats living in households in 2017.
- Although most people describe felines as cold, disinterested, and aloof, they actually make a great companion pet. Dogs and cats show their affection differently, but cats have proven to have been loyal and affectionate animals in most cases.
- You can find yourself a great companion in a cat or two. Most households own more than one cat, so you too can adopt more than one companion feline.
- Here are some common ways for cats to show affection: snuggling, hugging, licking, kneading, purring, playing, protecting you, and rubbing against you.
- If you’re looking for a pet that requires a little less attention and maintenance, a cat might be your best bet. They're slightly cheaper to upkeep than dogs.
- Animal behaviorists suggest that you should spend at least 20 to 60 minutes daily with your cat. You can spend time playing with them, talking to them, or giving them a treat. Cats also love being brushed and groomed.
While dogs and cats take away the most attention and applause as pets, rabbits often make an unusual companion to people. If you're wondering, rabbits are very friendly and quickly adapt to human companionship. However, they'd need proper housing and upkeep.
- Rabbits have always been outdoor pets, but many pet owners choose to keep them indoors and outdoor. In general, they need an appropriate kennel, exercise, socialization, and diet.
- Rabbits are social animals, so ensure to keep them close. Also, make sure they have a place to relax.
- Don't forget to bunny-proof your house. They will find a way to chew cables, computer wires, couch piping, rug, etc.
- The staple rabbit diet is fiber. They're also high-maintenance pets.
- Spend significantly with your pet. You can choose to walk with them for 30 minutes twice a day and play for 10 minutes, six times a day.
Birds are quite an unusual pet for most people because they lack experience in handling an aviary pet. If you care for them right, they'll become highly loving pets. Many bird species are specially bred to become human companions.
For years, birds have been used as therapy animals, as they can provide many mental health benefits, just like the animals that precede them on this list. Ensure to feed them nutritional meals. Birds love seeds, pelleted foods, vegetables, and small amounts of fruit.
- Some of the most kept pet birds include Parakeet, Cockatiel, Cockatoo, Lovebird, Finch, Conure, Parrot, and Dove.
- There are a lot of ways to spend time with pet birds. Some of them include
- Fetch and retrieve is a game where you toss a small Koosh ball in its direction. If you're lucky, it'll catch and bring it back to you.
- Birdie Basketball is another game where you design a birdie-sized basketball hoop and teach them to toss a cloth ball.
Hamsters aren't unusual companion pets; instead, many people own hamsters. Around 11 million people keep hamsters as pets in the world.
They don't require constant attention that makes them an ideal pet for busy people. However, make sure to provide them a proper residence, meals, and privacy.
They're incredibly cheap to keep and maintain. A single hamster can survive up to three years. Some common types of pet hamsters include dwarf hamsters, Syrian hamsters, golden hamsters, and teddy bear hamsters.
Here are few things to keep in mind.
- Choose a habitat with many passages to hide and burrow, like Critter tail tubes connected and a 6-ounce chew-proof water bottle for bedding.
- Keep them out of sight but not away from the sounds of your family. They enjoy privacy but also love staying close.
- They can bit when you mishandle them, so be careful. They also need enough sleep.
Make sure you follow this routine each day.
- Clean the toilet area daily
- Spot change bedding as needed (when soiled/wet)
- Wipeout their food dish weekly
- Change water daily
- Empty their entire habitat weekly or twice a week
- Place all new bedding weekly
- Feed them hamster pellets, small amounts of fresh fruits, vegetables, and nuts.
Guinea pigs, horses, fancy rats, and sugar gliders are other popular companion pets to keep. Horses do need a separate kennel and a lot of space and maintenance, so it isn't a usual choice for a companion pet.
When considering exotic pets, it is also essential to examine local regulations and laws to ensure that it is legal to own a particular type of pet.
Having a pet can be a fulfilling and rewarding experience, but you must provide them with a safe and nurturing environment to ensure their safe keep.
Check this infographic out for more information
Get in touch with Urban Pet Hospital & Resort, the best pet hospital in Urbandale, to learn more about adopting and raising a companion pet.