Pets enrich our lives in ways we might not even realize. Sure, it feels good to come home at the end of a hard day and be greeted with wagging tails and friendly purrs. But did you know that it's good for you physically as well as emotionally? Science proves it. Studies show that pet owners have lower blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels. They also tend to recover from illnesses faster. Perhaps doctors should be writing prescriptions directing their patients to, "Adopt a pet!"
Pets also reduce stress. Whether you're walking your dog or petting your cat, you're making a connection and strengthening the bond you share. What better way to live in the moment and enjoy life? Because we're the center of their universe, pets boost our self-esteem. And they also help us build new friendships, whether it's at the dog park, through an online cat community, or while volunteering at our local shelter.
If you already have a pet, adding another to your family means more love under one roof. You'll have one more friendly face to talk to (and someone new to brag about). Someone else who will be there for you — without fail — every day. Now that's true friendship.
The first step in choosing another pet is to make an honest assessment of your current pet's personality. If you have a cat, ask yourself the following questions. Does your cat welcome visitors, greeting them with purrs and leg rubs? Has your cat ever shared a home with another cat (and enjoyed it)? As a kitten, was your cat properly socialized with littermates? If the answer to all these questions is "yes," your cat might enjoy the company of another cat. And seeing your cats play together — pouncing, stalking and playing hide-and-seek — is more entertaining than anything you'll find on TV.
For dogs, there are different questions to ask. Is your dog "dog-friendly?" The good news is, most dogs will respond positively to the addition of another dog to their pack. You just have to choose the right dog. For example, if your dog is an alpha dog, your second dog should be non-assertive. Size is also important. If you have a small breed, you'll need to consider his safety before adding a large or giant breed. Choose the right pet, and your dog will soon become inseparable from the newest member of your pack.
Remember, proper introductions are important. Dogs should be introduced in a fenced, neutral area. (This should be done before you're committed to adopting the second dog.) You'll need to enlist the help of a friend for this exercise. Both dogs should be on a leash and you'll also need dog treats to help make the experience more positive.
Cat introductions are usually easier. Keep the cats separated in your home at first (perhaps one lives upstairs and one lives downstairs). Or keep them in separate rooms. Then gradually introduce the pair. Choosing cats with similar personalities and energy levels helps ensure success.
For dog/cat introductions, both pets should be leashed during the introduction. If it goes well and you adopt the second pet, make sure that both pets have access to safe areas for resting, hiding, eating, drinking, eliminating and spending time with you.
If you follow these tips and choose your second (or third, or fourth!) pet while keeping your current pet's personality in mind, you'll likely discover what so many multi-pet households have found. More pets means more love. You'll have peace of mind knowing your pet has a companion when you're away from home. Because every pet is lovable in his own way, you'll have fun discovering new ways to bring out each pet's unique personality. And then there's the joy of seeing a whole new side to your pet — a side that can only be brought out by the companionship of another pet. And what could be better than that?