Do pets affect your health?

Ireland Murphree, staff writer

Caring for a living creature is a big commitment and takes time and money that you could be spending on shopping or traveling, yet humans seem to be drawn to keeping pets. Why? Research has shown that pets of all kinds have a positive impact on mental health. They reduce stress, anxiety, depression and they even ease loneliness. Caring for a pet can help children grow up more secure and active. They also make great companions for elders. 

Not to mention service animals are a complementary treatment for PTSD which affects more than 250,000 (30 percent) of 9/11 war vets. The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) is a non-profit organization that funds research into the health benefits of pets and human-animal interaction. HABRI’s vision is for the human-animal bond – the mutually beneficial relationship between pets and people – to become universally embraced as an essential element of human wellness, for quality of life, physical and mental health (Mental Health America). 

Along with mental well being, pets also strongly impact physical health by increasing the opportunities to get outside, exercise, and socialize. Your physical wellness is positively impacted when you are active with your pet. For example, chances of a heart attack are significantly lowered by 11% , and a review from 2019 found that-after nearly 70 years of research-dog companionship lowers the chances of dying from any cause by 24%! If that isn’t enough, they also help your immune system.  You’d think that having pets might trigger allergies by kicking up sneeze-and-wheeze-inducing dander and fur. But it turns out that living with a dog or cat during the first year of life not only cuts your chances of having pet allergies in childhood and later on but also lowers your risk of asthma. A study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found that newborns who live with cats have a lower risk of childhood asthma, pneumonia and bronchiolitis (

Mental and physical health are both important aspects of life and taking care of them should be top priority. Animals are an amazing way to achieve your best self mentally and physically.

Photo courtesy of Allina Health.