Responsible pet ownership yields health benefits

By • Published: August 23rd, 2010
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

If you are one of the hundreds of millions of Americans who own a pet, you already know our animal friends can be a lot of work to care for. There’s the feeding and the walking, cleaning their cage or home … and sometimes your own … plus the unexpected veterinary bills when Fido eats something he shouldn’t.

But did you know your furry pals also are good for you? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says pet ownership can help lower blood pressure as well as cholesterol and triglyceride levels. And these are just some of the positive effects pets can offer their people friends. Owning a pet also can help you stay active and get outside more. Playing outside with your pet or joining a social community of pet owners can provide more opportunities for socialization with other people, helping alleviate loneliness.

But pet owners must care for their animals responsibly to keep their relationships with Rover and Fluffy healthy and fun, and not a burden.

First, never try to make pets out of wildlife. Many wild animals carry diseases or behave in ways that make them unsuitable pets. Instead, consider giving a home to a needy animal by adopting one from an animal shelter in your community.

Next, make sure you have the space, time and means required to give your animal a healthy, happy home. Keep your pets up-to-date on immunizations so they won’t contract diseases … and spread them to you. Spaying or neutering your pet is also key to keeping the pet population under control. Finally, make sure your family has a disaster response plan that includes solutions for what to do with your pet in an emergency.

Taking these steps to keep your pet healthy and happy could mean you’re more likely to be healthy and happy, too.