Animals have played an important role in humankind for thousands of years. It is amazing to see the various jobs and significance that animals have held through history and today. For example, today dogs are being used in healthcare for occupational therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy, seeing-eye dogs, seizure detection, and so much more. It is amazing what animals can do. Aside from the various jobs that animals can hold, they are known for providing companionship and can be beneficial to human health.
Health Benefits of Owning a Pet
There are numerous health benefits to owning a pet. Depending on the type of pet you own they may motivate you to get more exercise. They give you more opportunities for daily exercise, to get outside, and socialize. For example, if you own a dog, you may take them for routine walks or trips to the dog park. During these walks, you will get outside, get exercise, and possibly socialize with others. Getting regular exercise is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, healthy weight, and to prevent disease. Exercise helps lower blood pressure, can improve mental health, and boosts heart health.
Pets can aid in reducing anxiety and depression by lowering the human stress hormone cortisol and increasing the happy hormone oxytocin. Research has shown that the simple act of just petting a dog can lower cortisol. Interactions with pets and other people increase oxytocin. Having pets provides an opportunity for more social interaction with other people who own or like pets which helps decrease feelings of loneliness and depression.
There are many people that suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Several organizations have been set up to help people suffering from PTSD utilizing therapy animals. One research study showed that 84% of participants with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) reported that when they were paired with a service dog, their symptoms lessened. Of those participants, 40% were able to decrease their medications through therapy use of animals.
How We Can Take Care of Our Pet’s Health
When you take on the care of a pet, you become responsible for their well-being, safety, and healthcare. Since pets are so beneficial to our health and happiness, we should do everything we can to return the favor and take good care of them. This includes regular health check-ups, healthcare maintenance, and preventive medicine.
Routine Pet Health Exams
Just like it is important for you to go to your routine healthcare exams, it is important for you to take your pet to theirs. Routine health exams allow your veterinarian to do a physical exam, provide preventative care, and identify any medical problems early. If pets don’t receive regular healthcare they could develop medical conditions that become worse over time and shorten their lifespan. These appointments are also a great opportunity to discuss any concerns or questions you may have regarding your pet’s care and health.
Vaccinations Are Important for Humans and Pets
Vaccinations are important to our pet’s health, just as they are to ours. Getting routine vaccinations can prevent diseases that could result in your pet becoming very sick or dying. Vaccines are especially important for pets who are young, socialize with other animals, and go outside. Your veterinarian will let you know what vaccines your pet should receive. The veterinarian’s office will keep a record of your pet’s vaccines but you should also keep your own records. If you ever plan to bring your pet to a kennel, park, or travel many facilities require proof of vaccinations.
Flea and Tick Prevention
Fleas and ticks are not good for your pets and they are not good for you. They can carry harmful diseases that can be transmitted to both your pets and you. Many regions of the United States recommend pets be treated with year-round flea and tick prevention medications. If you are unsure about what type of flea and tick prevention is best for your pet, speak with your veterinarian for recommendations.
The most common diseases that ticks can carry to pets and humans are Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Lyme’s disease can cause a lot of discomfort to pets and humans for years after the infected tick bite. It can spread to your joints, cardiovascular system, and nervous system. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is another tick disease that if it goes untreated can be fatal.
Heartworm in pets is completely preventable with medication. It is recommended that all cats and dogs in the United States be on heartworm prevention medication year-round. Heartworm is an infection that is transmitted from mosquitoes to pets. If your pet gets heartworms it can be very expensive to treat and possibly fatal.
Adopting a Pet
Before owning a pet please consider the amount of time and money you have to dedicate to your pet. If you do not have the time or money for pet ownership, you can consider volunteering at an animal shelter or pet sitting for a friend. If you are interested in owning a pet please consider adoption. There are millions of pets looking for their forever homes. Visit your local animal shelter or PetFinder.com to find your next best friend.
Animals have been very useful to mankind for thousands of years. Pets have become part of our families. They are beneficial to our health and overall well-being. Since our pets provide us with so much happiness and companionship we should do our best to provide them with adequate healthcare. This includes routine health exams, vaccinations, flea and tick prevention, and heartworm prevention. Take good care of your pet and they will take good care of you.
About the Author
Victoria Derlin is a nurse who started her career working in acute care and now works in primary care. She is passionate about advocating for nurses and patients. In her spare time, she rides horses, reads lots of books, bakes delicious pies, and spends time with her family. You can connect with her on instagram @nurse.vicki.rn
The friend who keeps you young. Johns Hopkins Medicine. (n.d.). Retrieved April 2, 2022, from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/the-friend-who-keeps-you-young