There are many health benefits of owning a pet. They can increase opportunities to exercise, get outside, and socialize. Regular walking or playing with pets can decrease blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and triglyceride levels.  Pets can help manage loneliness and depression by giving us companionship. Most households in the United States have at least one pet.

Studies have shown that the bond between people and their pets can increase fitness, lower stress, and bring happiness to their owners. Some of the health benefits of having a pet include:

  • Decreased blood pressure

  • Decreased cholesterol levels

  • Decreased triglyceride levels

  • Decreased feelings of loneliness

  • Increased opportunities for exercise and outdoor activities

  • Increased opportunities for socialization

However, pets can sometimes carry harmful germs that can make us sick even when the pet appears healthy. The diseases people get from animals are called zoonotic (zoe-oh-NOT-ic) diseases. Below are some tips to help you and your family stay healthy while enjoying pets.


Pick the Right Pet

Before adopting a new pet, make sure that it is the right one for you and your family. Do some research beforehand about the specific needs of the animal. Ask yourself these questions before getting a pet:

  • How long will this animal live?

  • What does the pet eat?

  • How much exercise does the pet need?

  • How large will it become?

  • How much will it cost for veterinary care?

  • Do I have enough time to properly care for and clean up after the pet?

  • What type of habitat does this pet need to be healthy?

  • What type of exercise does this pet need?

  • Are pets allowed in my house, apartment, or condominium?

  • Are there young children, older people, or people with weak immune systems who will care for or be around the pet?