Military families endure a lot of stress whether it’s with a deployment, PCS, TDY or other military challenges. It’s no wonder that some families choose to avoid any additional stressors, including owning a pet.
But the mental and physical health benefits a pet can provide may be well worth the extra consideration.
Here are 12 benefits of having a pet that you and your family might consider:
Pets can enhance the lives of military members and their families in so many ways.
One of the greatest advantages a pet can provide is companionship. When a service member receives orders for a deployment or PCS, or community friends move away on orders, consistent companionship is hard to have. With a pet, children and spouses can maintain or bring a pet along with almost any order.
Some proven emotional benefits of a pet are:
Reduced stress and less incidences of depression
Increased happiness and well being after just 30 minutes with a dog
Reduced feelings of loneliness
Positive impact on children’s attitudes toward themselves and on their ability to relate to others
Pets have also been cited to help in family reintegration efforts and studies are being done on how pets can decrease homecoming stress and even reduce symptoms of PTSD
Pets aren’t just a good addition to a friendship repertoire; they can also be the apple a day that prevents medical issues. For instance, having a pet in your life can help you:
Lower cholesterol, blood pressure and triglyceride levels
Increase physical activity; many service members and veterans say pets help them get out of the house and be more physically active as a walking buddy and a social catalyst
Lower cardiovascular stress
Improve recovery after a heart attack or stroke
Lead to fewer annual doctor visits for the elderly
Lower incidence or allergies and asthma for kids introduced to pets at an early age
Use less medication and have fewer symptoms of illness
Because of the inconsistent pet housing policy, some families opt out of a pet lifestyle, although most installations allow up to two dogs, two cats or one of each. In the instance of relocation, owners can choose to drive their pets across the country stopping at pet-friendly hotels or look into air travel arrangements.
I promise that it has been done before, it is not always easy (just look into Hawaii’s isolation period for pets), you can arrange to take your pet almost anywhere the military sends you. There are also options for military families to put their pet into foster care in the case that temporary assignments do not allow pet travel.
If you are still undecided, check out this Youtube video of a Gracie, the dog, welcoming home her deployed soldier!
Adrienne May is a military spouse. Her husband is an Army soldier and now is serving in the Army National Guard. Together they have three children from preschool to pre-teen. Adrienne has a Bachelors Degree in Sociology & Non-Profit Management, and is actively involved in family readiness and disaster preparedness on the state level. She spends her free time advocating for military family programs, homecoming transition programs and adequate veterans benefits.
Military Family Central is your community for you to talk, share, relate, help and be helped by other military families and the tips and advice you'll find here.
Adrienne May maintains Military Family Central for Veterans United Home Loans, the nation's leading VA-approved lender. As a mom of three, from toddler to teenager, and wife to a National Guard solider, Adrienne has built up a massive library of resources, tips, articles and contributors for military families of all shapes, sizes and branches!