There are countless studies that talk about the health benefits of having a pet, but I don’t need to show you data to confirm what many of you already know. Pets really do make us happier.

There is nothing better than coming home to my dog Charlie every day. It doesn’t matter if I’ve been gone for five minutes, five hours or five days, he greets me with the same enthusiasm and always puts a smile on my face. It’s the most pure, unconditional love. He is a true companion. I’m sure many of you who have a pet feel the same way about yours too.  

Did you know that walking a dog means you’re less likely to be overweight and more likely to be physically active? Also, time outdoors increases your vitamin D levels and helps keep your bones strong. if you’re more of a cat person, guess what? Cats need exercise (albeit indoors) too. Simply by walking your pet or playing with them several times a day improves your health.

Pets also boost your mood – which can be a great thing during a rough time – such as right now during the coronavirus crisis (plus they are great companions with whom to quarantine). Pet owners are often less depressed, have greater self-esteem and are less lonely and stressed out than those without an animal companion.

Pets can also be great motivators – you often have to rush home to walk them, which can make you more efficient during the day.

Pets can also boost your social life. While you’re walking your dog, you’re bound to chat with other dog owners and make new friends or professional connections.

I am convinced that dogs have high emotional intelligence – my dog Charlie knows when I’m upset and will curl up next to me to comfort me. In the nine years I have had him I had two very difficult times in my life – my mom passing away from a long battle with cancer and my live-in boyfriend abruptly ending our relationship to date one of our mutual friends. Both were devastating and took me a long time to recover from – but there was Charlie, right by my side, comforting me as I cried and dealt with the stages of grief.

As CNN notes, this is the time to hug your pet but not your human loved one. So let’s keep the social distancing focused on human beings, and if you need to hug something, hug your dog or your cat or ferret or whatever. It’s also good for your pet too. The human animal bond is extremely important for animal health. With so many people working from home, this is really a great time to sit back and enjoy your time with your pet.

I highly recommend getting a pet as a companion for all of the reasons above. Also, if you think you’re too busy for one or they’re too expensive to take care of- really try find a way to make it work – lean on family and friends, hire a trusted dog walker (or get a fish!) – where there’s a will there’s a way. The unconditional love and boost to your well-being that a pet can bring is well worth your time and investment. There are so many animals in shelters who need good homes – you can greatly add to your life and theirs by adopting a pet.