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Your Pet’s Health Matters


Healthy Pets Lead to Healthy People

There are many obvious reasons people have pets, such as for love and companionship. There are also working animals, such as service dogs and even military dogs. In fact, some of the first-responders in recent catastrophes have been “man’s best friend.”

However, it might surprise you to know that having a pet can do more than just provide company. In fact, the National Center for Disease Control (CDC), the National Institute for Health, and other pet-friendly agencies have determined that having a pet can cause many health benefits for owners, such as:

  • A decrease in your blood pressure.
  • A decrease in cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
  • A measurable decrease in feelings of loneliness by those who own pets. Pets can also increase the amount of exercise you get and even open up new opportunities for socialization.
  • One NIH-funded study looked at 421 adults who’d suffered heart attacks. A year later, the scientists found that dog owners were significantly more likely to still be alive than were those who did not own dogs, regardless of the severity of the heart attack.
  • Another study looked at 240 married couples. Those who owned a pet were found to have lower heart rates and blood pressure, whether at rest or when undergoing stressful tests, than those without pets. Pet owners also seemed to have milder responses and quicker recovery from stress when they were with their pets than with a spouse or friend.
  • Another study supported by NIH followed more than 2,500 older adults, ages 71-82, for 3 years. Those who regularly walked their dogs walked faster and for longer time periods each week than others who didn’t walk regularly. Older dog walkers also had greater mobility inside their homes than others in the study.
  • Several research teams are examining the potential benefits of bringing specially trained animals into clinical settings. These animal-assisted therapies are increasingly offered in hospitals and nursing homes nationwide.
  • Pet owners have fewer mental illnesses, and animals are even used as therapy for people suffering from mental illness. If you struggle with depression, an animal can help you avoid dwelling on your problems.

So why not start the year off right. If you have a pet already, consider getting it a companion. Your vet probably has a host of likely candidates on his/her wall. If you don’t have one, perhaps knowing the health benefits will encourage that nagging feeling that there is something missing from your life… a dog?… a cat?

Why wait? The Coachella Valley has thousands of furry faces waiting to greet you. To locate a shelter near your home, contact www.aspca.org.