Moment of Paws: Make pets part of your New Year's resolutions

Ellie takes a lap.

With 2021 upon us, for many it’s time to follow those pesky New Year’s resolutions. If being more active and improving mental health are on your list, I have two words – pet adoption!

Pets offer us so much more than unconditional love. They are a tremendous help in keeping us active, mentally sharp, and on an even keel.
A recent study performed in the UK with 3,100 participants ranging from age 40-79 showed that dog owners were consistently more active, particularly during foul weather conditions, and that those who reported good overall health were more likely to be dog owners who walked their pets regularly.

Walking your dog isn’t the only way to increase activity and improve overall health – pet ownership in general has been shown to improve physical health. According to the CDC, having a pet in the home can help decrease blood pressure and lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

We all know the importance of being more active, but it’s also important to be mindful of our mental health. Pets can also play a key role in this aspect.

Multiple studies have shown that pets can significantly reduce stress and anxiety. Simply petting an animal creates a feeling of security and calmness and is probably the reason many of us interact and pet our animals as soon as we walk in the door after a long day!

Pets can also help tremendously with depression, loneliness, or low self-esteem. Caring for an animal is more than a responsibility – it is a life-long commitment to care for another living being. As our animals grow and thrive, we have a proud feeling of accomplishment. We are also comforted knowing that our animal is always there for us and wants to reciprocate the love we give them.

The human-animal bond is powerful and as much as our pets depend on us, we depend on them, too.

So, if you are looking for a healthy and balanced 2021, please consider adopting a pet. It is a wonderful journey filled with resounding happiness and joy.

Happy New Year to all!

Dr. Edward Schettino is the president and CEO of the Animal Rescue League of Boston. He has a doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. Pet questions? Email ARL at press@arlboston.org.