What Every Pet Owner Needs to Know About How Pets Affect Your Health
Pet owners enjoy plenty of health benefits from living with their furry friends. On the other hand, there are some less positive issues to keep in mind, like allergies and infections. Protect yourself and your family with these tips.
Maximizing the Health Advantages of Pet Ownership
1. Reduce stress. Petting an animal tends to lower your blood pressure and decrease the levels of stress hormones in your bloodstream. That lowers your risk for many conditions, including inflammation and heart disease.
2. Exercise daily. If you have trouble finding the motivation to go to a gym regularly, dogs will help you stay active. You may look forward to your morning walks as much as they do.
3. Lift your spirits. Interacting with friendly animals dramatically increases natural substances in your body like oxytocin that helps you to feel good. Unconditional love can be difficult to find, but your dog has loads to share.
Socialize more. Animals also help you to connect with your own
species. Your neighbors will start asking you how old your puppy is. You
automatically have something in common with other iguana fans.
Managing Pet-Related Allergies
Limit exposure. Forget about fur. The dander that flakes off an
animal’s skin 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.
Take medication. Over-the-counter and prescription drugs can
relieve the symptoms of pet allergies. If you need something stronger, your
doctor may recommend taking shots.
Stay up to date. Remember that new allergies can develop at any
time. Even if you’ve lived with animals 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
Wash your hands. The common-sense measures that protect you from
colds work for other infections too. Scrub your hands after scooping up after
your dog or changing your cat’s litter box. Keep your hands away from
your face after petting them.
Avoid bites and scratches. Train your pets to play gently. Supervise small
children until they’re old enough to understand how to take care of pets.
Eliminate fleas. Some infections are caused by the insects that
live on your pet’s body. Ensure that your pets wear flea and tick protection
collars, and check their skin regularly.
Talk with your veterinarian and doctor. Give your health care providers complete
information so they can treat you and your loved ones appropriately. Otherwise,
they only know half the picture.
Provide early exposure. Ironically, 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 pets far outweigh the risks. Practicing good hygiene and staying on top of proper veterinary care will keep you fit while you enjoy each other’s company.