How Pets are Good for Your Health

They don't talk back, they're always there to listen and they never judge you. But did you know your pets may also benefit your health?


Whether you spent your afternoon stuck in traffic or you’re having an overall bad day, you can be sure of one thing. Your dog still loves you. And the same may be said for many other pets.

Coming home to your beloved pet at the end of the day may do more than just make you feel loved. It may actually be good for your health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pets may help lower your blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Depending on the pet, they also give you a chance to socialize, exercise and spend time outdoors. All this may help with stress and improve your physical and emotional health. Owning a pet also gives you a chance to start a conversation with other pet lovers, too.

Pets, kids and grandkids

Pets may help bolster a child’s self-esteem by offering unconditional acceptance. By taking care of a pet, a child can learn lessons on taking care of others. Pets teach kids valuable lessons about life and death. Compared to children without pets, research shows that children who own pets may:

  • Have opportunities to be responsible for taking care of a pet, such as walking it, cleaning up after it or giving it a bath
  • Have happier family lives
  • May lower risks of allergies and asthma when they have a pet early in life
  • Have enhanced cognitive development
  • Be more empathetic

Be more sociable (this is also seen in children with autism).

Benefits to seniors

Adopting a pet can add a new dimension to the lives of seniors, especially those who live alone. Animals give seniors another life to care for and new responsibilities that may help keep them healthy and active. Walking, grooming and playing with pets may strengthen the heart, improve circulation and slow the loss of bone tissue, too.

Some studies have shown that people ages 65 and older who own a pet go to the doctor 30 percent fewer times than people who don’t. Their pet may also provide socialization opportunities. These can include going daily to the dog park, getting together with others and exchanging photos of their pets.

Some precautions

  • Some people need to be cautious about their exposure to pets:
  • Pregnant women should never clean out the kitty litter box. Contact with cat feces can cause toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection that can cause birth defects. They should also avoid contact with rodents. These animals can also spread viruses that can cause birth defects.
  • People with weak immune systems and those who have HIV or AIDS need to take precautions when handling or choosing a pet. Talk to your vet for more information.
  • People who are prone to allergies should be certain they have no pet allergies before getting a pet.
  • Explore the rules in your housing community regarding certain types of animals. Some are banned for being overly aggressive, even if your pet isn’t.

Spend some extra time with your favorite pet today — for so many good reasons.

By Diane Griffith, Contributing Writer

American Heart Association. Owning a pet may protect you from heart disease. Accessed August 23, 2019.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Healthy pets and people. Accessed August 23, 2019. Mood-boosting power of dogs. Accessed August 23, 2019.

Last Updated: August 28, 2019

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