Pets are members of our family. But unlike some relatives or in-laws, out pets are natural stress relievers and help keep us young at heart.

By Jennifer Florendo

My parents base their everyday lives around the schedule of their dog. How long their vacations are, how long they can stay away during the day, and probably even what they have for dinner, so that Woofie can enjoy some snacks too.

I talked about my beagle earlier, but didn’t mention that he is now in the care of my parents, for many reasons, with some being mentioned below. I don’t think that anyone can sum up the benefits of having a pet better than my wise, old man, “Yes, he keeps me young by getting up to let him out, instead of sittin’ in a chair on my fat butt,” says Steve Bartol, the man I am proud to call “dad.”

Other than the obvious benefit of … ahem, exercise … how else does your furry friend keep you young at heart?

They can rid you of loneliness. You may not be divorced or widowed, but you may be going through the empty nest syndrome. Pets provide constant companionship for those adjusting to a new lifestyle.

Having a pet can help you make new friends with similar interests. When you discover someone else shares your love for furry friends, it creates a blossoming relationship.

Sometimes laughter can be the best medicine. Cats have a habit of chasing anything that moves, shines or bounces. Nothing cracks me up more than watching the dog run and skid on the tile floor while chasing the cat who is chasing a piece of dust.   

On a serious note, they can also lower your blood pressure. Therapy animals are often used in hospital and nursing home settings to help lower the blood pressure of patients. Having a pet means having your own therapist.

Speaking of therapy, sometimes you just need to talk to someone without being judged or even without wanting a response. It is the venting you crave. No matter what you say to your dog, he will always look at you with loving eyes.

Make some money. If you are retired, unemployed or have lots of free time, you may take up dog walking or pet sitting to earn some extra cash. Are you crafty? Maybe you can make pet clothes or treats in your spare time.

Pets come with much responsibility, but the payoff is huge: unconditional love. Whether your pet has fur, scales or coughs up hair balls, you love them right back. And having that love in your life is what will help to keep you young at heart. It has been proven that pet owners have fewer visits to their doctors than non-pet owners. So give your four-legged friend a hug, or run out to your local shelter and save a companion today.


  1. I have had dogs for over 40 years. They have been my siblings (I am an only child), my companions, my best friend and even my children.

    At this moment, we are faced with the reality that one of our beloved “children” is gravely ill.

    I am often told that people don’t want pets, so they don’t have to say goodbye. I am the opposite, I would rather have experience with my babies – instead of never knowing their love.

    I can’t imagine my life without my four-legged “kids”

  2. Can’t and won’t imagine being without my furry friends. I watch them play, I watch them sleep (what is more soothing than watching a cat snooze?) – they are so much more than just animals, they’re my family.