Pets and Good HealthPosted by Medicare Made Clear
Pets are wonderful. They’re loyal and cuddly and just downright cute. They’re there for you in good times and bad — when you’re happy or sad. They love you unconditionally. Pets may even provide health benefits you might not otherwise get.
According to The American Heart Association, owning a pet — particularly a dog — may help lower your risk of heart disease1. There are two possible reasons for this. First, pets generally make people happy, providing the dog hasn’t recently ripped apart the couch cushions. Second, dog owners who walk their pets are more likely to get the level of daily physical activity needed for good health. There are other ways pet ownership may be beneficial to your health, such as:
- Going for a walk in the neighborhood or park helps keeps you physically active. It may also be good for your overall well-being. Going out with your pet may lead to more socializing, too.
- A furry friend provides emotional support, which may decrease stress and loneliness.
- Having a pet may decrease blood pressure and cholesterol and triglyceride levels2.
Hear how a pet may have a positive effect on your health.
It’s Not All Roses, Though
No bones about it, pets require a lot of care. They’ll need plenty of exercise, food and water, vaccinations, teeth cleaning, nail trimming, and regular visits to the vet. Many people think the tradeoff is worth it. According to statistics provided by the Humane Society of the United States, Americans own about 78.2 million dogs and 86.4 million cats3. It seems pets are a popular choice.
As wonderful as it is to have a pet in the home, doing so can pose mild to serious health problems for people with asthma or allergies to pet dander. According to The American Lung Association, 27 percent of homes in the United States have cats and 32 percent have dogs. Roughly twice as many people report allergies to cats when compared to dogs4.
It’s a good idea to check with your doctor to find out if you are allergic to animals before you get a pet. If you have asthma or allergies, one of the best ways to protect yourself is to remove the pet from your home. If you can’t bear the thought of letting go of your favorite friend, at least try to keep your pet out of the bedroom and off the furniture. Cleaning your home often and not allowing dust to accumulate may also help keep the dander down.
If you experience any health problems you suspect may be caused by your pet, you should make an appointment to see your doctor. Otherwise, your Annual Wellness Visit is a good time to talk to your doctor if you are considering getting a pet.
For more information, explore MedicareMadeClear.com or contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048.
Pet Power: Medicare Made Clear
Healthy Pets Healthy People: Centers for Disease Prevention and Control—CDC.gov
Can Pets Keep You Healthy?: National Institutes of Health—NIH.gov
1, 3 Owning a Pet May Protect You from Heart Disease, February 3, 2014: The American Heart Association
2Healthy Pets Health People, Health Benefits of Pets: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
4 What is Pet Dander?: The American Lung Association