They’re an Opportunity to Socialize
“Aw, it’s so cute!”
Those who own a pet know this phrase well—animals are a wonderful social cue that can give you the opportunity to engage others in conversation. Whether you’re out walking your dog or receiving an acquaintance, pets can make for enjoyable, easy conversation in any setting.
As we get older, it gets a little harder to meet people. We’re busier, tired, and maybe even a little more cynical about life. Rather than stopping to chat, we simply pass others by without comment.
But one British study showed that 4 out of 5 dog owners speak with one another while out walking, sharing stories about their furry companions—their pets give them the opportunity to socialize.
This is important for your health—loneliness can, quite literally, kill you.
Those who suffer from social isolation are twice as likely to prematurely expire—a risk that is comparable to that of smoking, and that’s twice as high as that of obesity.
Loneliness impairs immune function and causes inflammation, which can lead to disorders such as arthritis, diabetes, and heart disease.
Worse, loneliness is self-perpetuating. When we’re isolated for a certain amount of time, we begin to sink into a “fight or flight” response state in which we see others as potential threats rather than as potential friends and allies. This causes some to retreat further from life-saving contact.
But getting a pet isn’t as scary as talking to another person, and having one around can not only break the cycle of loneliness, but will also encourage you to talk to others. If you’re ready and able to properly take care of a four-legged friend, adopting one can be just what you need if you’ve been feeling isolated.