How to enjoy the comfort of pets without actually owning one

We recently shared a story about a new study indicating how people with pets experienced lower stress levels during the pandemic. That’s wonderful for those who crave some connection and have the means to take care of a pet full-time, but what if you don’t have room for a pet in your life?

No worries! If you don’t have the space, time, or money for a pandemic companion, here’s how to reap the benefits of animals without committing to pet parenthood.

The study, released by the University of York, suggests there are ways to reap the benefits of having a pet without actually owning one that needs constant care like a dog. What they found was, other than improved mental health and comfort during the pandemic, it didn’t matter if this pet was a dog or a goldfish. Whether big or small, any type of pet offered emotional benefits. So if you’re not ready for a dog, perhaps consider a more low-maintenance pet to start with.

But if you really don’t want a pet, even a hamster, consider borrowing one from a friend for an evening of cuddles or pet sitting when a neighbor goes out of town. You can also see if your local shelter is looking for volunteers. Fostering an animal temporarily can be a great way to feel out whether you’re ready for a full-time commitment. 

You can also make use of your environment. If you have a local park or open space, consider going birdwatching or just sitting in the park and observing the behaviors of wild squirrels. Simply watching animal videos online has been shown to offer some comfort and relief from the stresses of everyday life. 

Pets are a great tool for comfort and stress reduction, but not everyone has space in their lives for the full-time responsibility of a pet. If you’re seeking some animal comfort, try one of these alternative strategies to reap the calming effect of the animal companions.

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