7 Reasons to Be Thankful for Pets
There’s always a thousand reasons to be thankful for the pets in our lives. They do so much for us and ask for so little in return: simply a warm bed and the occasional treat.
Pets cheer us up when we’re down, connect us with like-minded people and give us the giggles every day with their antics. They can be our anchors in a stormy sea — or at least someone to watch Netflix with.
Here are our top seven reasons to be thankful for our furry friends!
1. Pets distract us and make us laugh
It’s hard to deny: laughter is good for you! Laughter releases tension and stress, which is especially important in frightening or uncertain times. It may sound counter-intuitive, but the darker the situation, the more likely we are to use humor to cope and to make it all seem a little more manageable.
And when it comes to humor, there’s a reason funny animal videos and memes dominate the Internet. Anyone who has a pet knows that they are natural clowns — without even trying to be! Your dog barking at their reflection in a mirror or your cat rolling around in a bag can provide a moment of levity and laughter when you need it most.
This Thanksgiving season, we are forever thankful for our pets as a welcome distraction from it all!
2. Pets bond us with others and break down social barriers
Although many pet parents claim to love animals more than people, the fact is that having an animal helps us bond with other people, too.
Studies show that people are perceived by strangers as more trustworthy and approachable when they have a pet with them. We think: that big, scary guy with the tattoos can’t be that bad if he’s tenderly holding a Pekenise, right?!
Pets are the perfect ice-breakers to ease social awkwardness. There’s nothing pet parents love more than talking about their pets and sharing pictures of them.
The proof is in the pudding, or in the DogFiles survey that showed:
“Pets have always been a social network of sorts. According to the survey, 61 percent of pet owners say their neighbours talk to them more when they are with their pet, and about 41 percent say their pets have helped them begin a new relationship with someone they might not have otherwise met. Pet people seem to meet other pet people.”
As we’re expressing our gratitude for our friends this year, let’s not forget that our four-legged friends may be the reason we have so many two-legged ones!
3. Pets love us without judgment
As much as we love our fellow humans, we can’t deny what the novelist George Eliot (true name Mary Ann Evans) once wrote: "Animals are such agreeable friends ― they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.”
Yet one of the most refreshing things about our pets is that they have never needed impressing anyway. They love us without judgement, not concerning themselves with what we wear, what car we drive or how many dishes we’ve allowed to stack by the sink. Even if you spend the weekend eating snacks in front of the TV and forgetting to shower, we can guarantee that your cat still curled up in your lap or your dog still stared at you adoringly.
We’re thankful that all our pets want from us is love: nothing more and nothing less. Our pets ask us to pet them, play with them and feed them the good stuff. Once that is achieved, they pass no judgments on the rest of our lives. They don’t look down on us for our jobs, roll their eyes at our embarrassing hobbies or demand any explanations for our life choices.
That’s more than we can say for most people!
4. Pets bring out the best in us
It’s been said that you can tell how good a person is by how they treat animals. The truth is, our pets inspire us to be better humans. Caring for a pet helps children learn empathy, emotional intelligence and nurturing skills. But the positive influence of a pet doesn’t stop there.
We’re thankful for the pets who believe in our best selves, and help us believe in it, too. There’s just something about an animal — their innocence, their vulnerability, their unguarded love for others — that makes us want to be worthy of their trust.
In the words of Nick Trout, author of Love Is The Best Medicine: What Two Dogs Taught One Veterinarian About Hope, Humility, And Everyday Miracles: “Perhaps the greatest gift an animal has to offer is a permanent reminder of who we really are.”
5. Pets are good for our physical and mental health
The experts agree: your pet is good for you!
From getting us active and moving to keeping us on a stable schedule, the lifestyle changes that pet parents must make to properly care for their kitty or pup have the added bonus of caring for ourselves, too. You may be able to convince yourself to skip the daily jog if it was only about you, but a whining dog bringing you their leash makes an argument that’s hard to refuse.
Maybe that’s why pet owners have a better immune system, weigh less and live longer. Plus, at the end of a long day, studies show you may even sleep better with a dog in your bed than you would with a spouse. (Sorry, honey!)
Want even more reasons to be thankful? It’s been shown that pets are good for our mental health, too. Regular cuddle-time with our furry friends actually lowers our stress levels, improves our mood, and reduces our risk of depression.
I’m sure we’ve all had that experience of an adorable kitty or pup taking a terrible day and turning it completely around, just by being their lovable selves!
6. Pets take care of us as much as we take care of them
From guiding our steps and sensing our illness to helping us read and finding us when we are lost, there are times when our pets are the ones taking care of us.
Yet another reason to be thankful for pets is because they can be ‘gainfully employed’ as life-changing service dogs, therapy dogs, or emotional support animals! The assistance and unwavering support these pets provide to their people can hardly be put into words.
In fact, one of our favorite stories of 2021 was the tale of Digby the therapy dog. In his ‘day job’, Digby works at a British fire department, providing support and comfort during firefighter therapy sessions. Digby’s steady presence reassures firefighters and gives them something to hold onto as they recount painful stories of the trauma they’ve experienced and witnessed.
One day this June, Digby went above and beyond the call of duty when he saved the life of a woman in distress. The young woman had climbed over the railings of a bridge above a busy highway with the thought of taking her own life, and emergency responders had tried without success to convince her to change her mind.
That’s when Digby arrived on the scene. His warm, welcoming, non-judgemental demeanor was just what the young woman needed. She agreed to cooperate with emergency responders in exchange for the chance to meet Digby, and willingly returned to safety — making Digby a certified Very Good Boy.
7. Pets can save lives
We all know our pets are superheroes on paws, but some pet parents have extra reasons to be thankful after their pets literally saved their lives.
Every day, loyal and courageous dogs and cats rescue people from fires, call 911, alert their parents to a gas leak, protect freezing children, save people from animal attacks and commit many other acts of valor.
While most of us will never know how our pet would react in a crisis (despite some humorous attempts to mimic one), we can still be grateful for our pets’ daily presence, and for the small chance that they may one day repay all our love for them in a life-saving act of heroism.
Of course, pets make the best superheroes, because they never let it go to their head. All they’ll want after a disaster is a warm bed and a bowl of yummy food — just like always!
Do you have a personal reason to be thankful for your best pal? We’d love to hear it so that we can celebrate them, too! Share your story with us on Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest on why you’re thankful for your pets this holiday season!