We can enjoy a wide variety of health benefits from living with pets, as I’ve mentioned before.
But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that there are some less positive issues to keep in mind when you live with dogs and cats, like allergies and infections.
Let’s take a look below at the health benefits of pet ownership, as well as how to make sure that everyone – pets included – stay healthy and happy.
Health Implications of Living With Pets
Maximizing the Health Advantages of Pet Ownership
1. Reduce stress
Petting a dog or cat tends to lower blood pressure and decrease the levels of stress hormones in the bloodstream. That lowers your risk for many conditions, including inflammation and heart disease.
2. Daily exercise
If you have trouble finding the motivation to go to the gym, living with a dog will definitely help you stay active. In fact, you may start to look forward to your morning walks as much as your mutt does.
3. Mood enhancement
Interacting with pets dramatically increases natural substances in your body like oxytocin, which helps you to feel good. Unconditional love can be difficult to find, but your dog has loads to share.
4. More socialization
Pets also help you to connect with your own species. You’ll meet your neighbors when you walk your dog, and you might even make a new friend at the dog park.
Managing Pet-Related Allergies
- Limit exposure: Forget about fur. The dander that flakes off a pet’s skin is what causes you to itch and wheeze, so a tiny kitten may aggravate your symptoms more than a Great Dane. On the other hand, keeping them both out of your bedroom may be enough to keep you comfortable.
- Clean house: Strategic housekeeping helps, too. Trade in carpets and drapes for wood floors and blinds. Use HEPA air filters and vacuums. Vacuum frequently and refer to these tips for getting rid of dog hair.
- Take medication: Over-the-counter and prescription drugs can greatly relieve the symptoms of pet allergies. If you need something stronger, your doctor may recommend getting allergy injections.
- Stay up to date: Remember that new allergies can develop at any time. Even if you’ve lived with pets for years, you may want to ask your doctor for a skin or blood test if you notice unfamiliar symptoms.
Managing Other Health Risks Related to Pet Ownership
1. Wash your hands
The common sense measures that protect you from colds are effective for other infections, too. Scrub your hands after scooping poop or changing your cat’s litter box. Keep your hands away from your face after petting them.
2. Avoid bites and scratches
Train your pets to play gently. Supervise small children until they’re old enough to understand how to properly treat pets.
3. Eliminate fleas
Some infections are caused by the insects that can live on your pet’s body. Ensure that you’re treating your pet for fleas and ticks, and check their skin regularly.
4. Talk with your veterinarian and doctor
Give your health care providers complete information so they can treat you and your loved ones appropriately. The more they know, the more thoroughly they can treat you.
5. Provide early exposure
Ironically, living with pets can be especially valuable for small children even though they’re more vulnerable to some health risks. Children who live with pets catch fewer colds and other infections.
Some experts believe that having a dog around will strengthen the immune systems of babies who are less than 6 months old.
6. Take extra precautions
In addition to children, other groups could also have strong reactions to pets, including the elderly and pregnant women, who need to avoid changing litter boxes to avoid a parasite called toxoplasmosis.
For most animal lovers, the health benefits of living with pets far outweigh the risks. Practicing good hygiene and staying on top of proper veterinary care will keep you and your pet healthy while you enjoy each other’s company.
Do you have tips to add?
Let me know in a comment below, or stop by my Facebook page and join in the conversation there!