Five Ways Your Pet Makes You Healthier

Your “fur babies” do more than bring a smile to your face. A number of studies show that there are several health benefits to owning and raising an animal in the home. And, if you don’t currently have a fuzzy friend living with you, perhaps these five reasons will change your mind.

Lower Blood Pressure

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that having a pet has the potential to lower blood pressure, especially in hypertensive or high-risk patients. While it’s not exactly known why, we have a few assumptions. The unconditional love of a cute little pup is bound to lower stress and reduce anxiety.

Easing Pain

A study from Loyola University found that patients who use pet therapy while in recovery from surgery may need less pain medication than those who do not. With increased awareness of the potential side effects and risk of addiction with many opioids, exploring alternative pain treatments might be more important now than ever.

Social Engagement

Owning a dog will get you out of the house, often. Pet ownership brings people together. One study from Canada showed that pet owners were much more socially engaged than non-pet owners. And social engagement has been shown to have numerous benefits for our physical and emotional well-being.

Decrease Risk of Heart Attack & Stroke

Both dogs and cats can have a huge impact on your likelihood of having a stroke or heart attack. One Dr. Becker said, “If you have a cat, you’re 30 percent less likely to have a heart attack, and you’re 40 percent less likely to have a cardiovascular incident like a stroke.” He also said, “If you have a heart attack and you have a dog, you are [significantly more] likely to be alive a year later.”

Childhood Development

One study from the British Psychological Society showed that children, given the choice between a toy or a living creature, spent much more time with an animal. Vanessa LoBue of Rutgers University said that “The fact that children find animals so appealing suggests that children may benefit from having an animal, like a pet, in their lives.” Taking care of a pet can also help children work through important milestones in their psychological development, become more empathetic, and learn responsibility through taking care of a pet.


Always be sure to discuss your health concerns with your primary care provider. If you need to find a primary care provider in the Upper Peninsula, try using our online Find a Doctor tool.

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