The following article is courtesy of Purina.
If one four-legged friend brings so much joy into your life, surely more than one boosts the fun, right? While there are compelling benefits to having multiple pets, there are also important considerations to weigh before making the decision to bring additional cats or dogs into your home. When the decision is properly informed, it ensures the multi-pet household dynamic works well for you.
More Companionship for You
Cats and dogs can be loyal friends. They have a special way of comforting you and bringing a smile to your face, even when you’re not in the best mood. They keep you company, play with you, snuggle you and make you laugh. Multiple pets mean more soft fur to run your hands through and more companionship, even when one of your fuzzy buddies is off on her own.
More Companionship for Your Pets
You can’t always be around to entertain your cat or dog. Two or more pets can provide additional companionship for each other. Multiple compatible pets play together, helping stave off under-stimulation and boredom that can lead to behavioral problems. This enriching relationship may also reduce or prevent separation anxiety and ease your conscience when you have to go out. However, more pets don’t add up to a bandage for separation anxiety; you may simply end up with multiple pets sharing the condition, as trainer Kathy Diamond Davis cautions on VeterinaryPartner.com. Of course, the antics of pets playing together is a great source of amusement. Keep in mind, though, that not all pets get along well, and they may even pose dangers to each other if they fight.
Increased Socialization for Your Pets
Socializing pets with other companion animals – especially when they’re kittens and puppies – is essential to their emotional development. Cats and dogs need experiences with others to become confident, adaptable and accepting. Socialization teaches your pet to interact with other cats, dogs and people appropriately and with less anxiety, explains Veterinary Pet Insurance. While single-pet parents have to find socialization opportunities out of the home, multi-pet parents have a built-in socializing environment; however socialization with less familiar cats and dogs is still important.
Increased Socialization for You
More pets get you out and interacting more with other people. Because dogs should sometimes be walked and taken out for excursions on their own, having more than one requires extra trips around the neighborhood and to the dog park, where you can chat with neighbors and other pet parents. Multiple pets create more opportunities for trips to the groomer, pet spas or classes and other public places where you meet people who share your love of cats and dogs.
Improved Mood and Health
One pet provides a variety of health benefits, and more than one can compound the effects. You get exercise walking and playing with your pets, which promotes a healthier mind and body; the more pets, the more activity. Among other benefits, sharing your home with furry friends reduces stress, helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol, enhances your mood and lowers the risk of heart attack and stroke, notes Woman’s Day.
Decreased Allergies in Children
Pets are great for kids in so many ways, and as the National Institutes of Health states, children raised in multi-pet households are less likely to develop allergic conditions. As reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, kids living with more than one cat or dog are at reduced risk for hypersensitivities to common allergens, such as animals, grass, ragweed and dust mites.
Enhanced Development for Multiple Children
Cats and dogs aren’t just beloved companions and sources of comfort to kids. They teach them responsibility, encourage emotional development, promote a nurturing instinct and strengthen family bonds, as Parents Magazine details. In homes with more than one child, having one pet per child helps prevent competition for attention and affection, allows each kid to develop a special bond and provides opportunities for each child to have more involvement.
Just as the decision to share your home with one cat or dog cannot be made lightly, the decision to take on multiple pets calls for a good deal of thought and planning. Some things to keep in mind include:
- Not all cats and dogs get along with all other cats and dogs – do research and take individual personalities into account
- New cats or dogs must be introduced into the home and to other pets in a carefully controlled manner
- Most experts recommend putting at least one to two years between getting cats or dogs
- Pets of the opposite sex often accept each other more readily
- Spaying and neutering are even more important to prevent pregnancies, dangerous competitive mating behaviors and other complications
- Pets may fight over food, toys and turf
- Groups of dogs can revert to a pack mentality
- Cats and dogs require a year or more to feel comfortable in a new home
- Pets should spend time apart, or they may bond strongly to the exclusion of bonding with human family members
- Pet parents must spend time one-on-one with each companion animal
- Training needs to occur individually
- Costs increase significantly with additional pets – you pay for more food, toys, bedding, litter, other supplies, medications, veterinary appointments, grooming, boarding, etc.
- It’s more complicated to travel with more than one companion animal
- Two or more pets of the same age may develop age-related health problems – which can be expensive, time-consuming and draining – around the same time and may pass close together, creating a massive emotional burden