Whether your furry friend is a cat or a dog, or you gravitate toward pets that aren’t furry at all—amphibians, anyone?—pets inevitably require a little extra room in your monthly budget. From food and grooming to unexpected vet visits and overnight boarding, the costs of pet ownership can add up over time.
But if you have a pet, you likely already know that the benefits of animal companionship are truly priceless—and those benefits are usually worth the extra money you end up spending on their care.
Here are a few reasons pet ownership might be a good fit for you, despite the added expense.
1. Pets offer humans a mental health boost.
Affection and companionship are two commonly cited benefits of pet ownership, but research also finds that owning a pet can lower cortisol levels and reduce stress.
One study even found that pets are just as effective as human best friends when it comes to coping with the negative feelings associated with rejection.
2. Owning a pet can improve your health.
The benefits of pet ownership aren’t just emotional. Research has found a link between owning a pet and lower heart rate and blood pressure. Taking your pup for regular walks is also a great way to stay in shape!
3. Pets can be especially impactful for children and seniors.
If your kids are pestering you for a pet, there may be good reason to seriously consider their request: Pet-child relationships can help children develop non-verbal communication skills, compassion and empathy, which also translates to their human relationships, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
Plus, pets can teach kids responsibility when each family member takes ownership of their own chores and tasks to care for the animal.
For older adults, pet ownership can help when it comes to establishing a new routine in the retirement years, in addition to all the mental and physical benefits of animal companionship.
Finding room for a pet in your budget and your heart
If you would love to have a pet but you’re concerned about the cost, remember that different kinds of pets come with different expenses. While dog supplies and care expenses can escalate quickly, you may find that a smaller pet (even a fish!) is the right fit for your family and your budget.