It might be hard to think about retirement right now, considering you may currently be focusing on where your career is going. But let’s fast forward some years into the future. Your kids have all gotten married and moved to various parts of the country, leaving you with an empty nest.

Many people in retirement or with empty nests fill that void with a companion animal, such as a dog or cat. However, bringing an animal into your pet-friendly home is a big decision. It’s important to consider the pros and cons before making the big decision. Luckily, Rent.com has come up with an extensive pros and cons list to help you make this important decision.

Pros

Other than the fact that cats and dogs are adorable and give unconditional love, there are actually several benefits to owning a companion animal that may surprise you.

Pets Reduce Feelings of Loneliness

Living in an empty nest, it’s only natural to feel lonely sometimes. But with a pet, those sad feelings may be significantly reduced. When you have a purring cat in your lap or a dog excited that you’ve come home, suddenly you don’t feel so alone.

Having a companion animal doesn’t just help reduce feelings of depression, it can actually improve your overall mood as well. Animals have such an impact on emotions that they’re used to help soldiers deal with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Pets Relieve Pain

Animals are often brought into hospitals to help patients recover. Animals help reduce anxiety, which has a direct impact on chronic pain such as migraines and arthritis.

Researchers have even found that people recovering from surgery who engage in pet therapy typically require less pain medication than those who do not interact with therapy animals.

Pets Keep You Active

This may ring true more so for dogs than cats, but both require you to get up and move around. You’ll have to take your pup on walks outside a few times a day, forcing you to remain active throughout the year. You’re much more likely to go on regular walks if you own a dog– there’s also other fun activity options like dog yoga. Cats need exercise too, but not as frequently.

Pets Increase Opportunities to Socialize

Pets are a great conversation starter, and they get you out of your apartment. You can take your pup to a dog park and strike up conversations with other owners and begin to develop friendships. Even just taking your dog or cat to the vet is an opportunity to get out and meet other pet owners.

Pets Encourage Learning

Having a pet in your retirement years is a wonderful form of mental stimulation. Owners can read books and various articles about how to best take care of their pet, whether it’s articles about how to make your own dog treats or how to find a reliable pet sitter.

Mental stimulation is very important as you get older, as it may ward off health problems such as dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Cons

As you may have guessed, there are fewer cons to getting a pet. However, it’s still important to think about these points to ensure that getting a companion animal is the right decision for you and your lifestyle.

Pets are a Big Responsibility

If you’re going to get a pet, you have to be prepared for each and every responsibility that comes with pet ownership. Getting a dog, for instance, means that you’ll have to be home to feed Fido and take him on walks.

If for some reason you’re not home regularly or you’re not physically able to walk long distances, a dog may not be the best option for you (you may also consider adopting an older dog).

Pets Cost Money

 

Consider finances before picking up a companion animal from your local adoption center. Are you prepared financially to care for this pet? Not only will you have to pay for your fur baby’s food, you must be prepared to shell out money for vet bills, obedience training, sitters, grooming, teeth cleaning, damaged furniture etc.

If your pet gets sick, you must to be financially stable enough to take care of them and give them the care and attention they need.

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